Recognizing Plant Physiology first authors: Mehran Dastmalchi

Mehran Dastmalchi, first author of Purine permease-type benzylisoquinoline alkaloid transporters in opium poppy

Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Vincenzo De Luca’s lab at Brock University (St. Catharines Canada)

Education: HBSc in Biology at the University of Toronto (Canada) and PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Western University and Agriculture Canada (London, ON, Canada)

Non-scientific interests: literature, international relations, sustainable practices, running, and spending time with my wife Tanya and our dog Sadie

Brief bio: I am interested in the diversity of plant biochemistry and the metabolic machinery involved in the process. My career trajectory thus far has involved studying metabolism of valuable natural products and medicines in soybean, opium poppy and Madagascar periwinkle. I started my research in Dr. Dhaubhadel’s lab at Western University. During my PhD I found evidence for the formation of a ‘metabolon’ (enzyme complex) in the biosynthesis of isoflavonoids (phenolic compounds in legumes). I recently finished a fellowship with Dr. Facchini at the University of Calgary investigating morphine biosynthesis in opium poppy. During my time in Calgary, I worked on improving enzymatic variants and relieving key bottlenecks. The findings presented herein describes the discovery of purine permease-type transporters that are involved in opiate alkaloid production in the plant and in engineered microbes. Currently, I am working with Dr. De Luca at Brock to tackle specialized metabolism in Madagascar periwinkle, known for its production of the anti-cancer drug vinblastine. Beyond science, I have a long-held interest in education and outreach. I am a member of the Canadian Society of Plant Biology as part of the communications committee. I love talking about plant science, so I hope to pursue this goal for many years to come.