240d MU Bond Life Sciences Center
The research focus of the Sumner lab includes the development of cutting-edge technologies for large-scale biochemical profiling of plant metabolites (ie metabolomics) and integrating these with transcriptomics. These technologies are then applied in a symbiotic manner for plant gene discovery, gene characterization and the elucidation of mechanistic responses to external stimuli; especially related to plant specialized metabolism or plant natural products biosynthesis. Technology enables the biology and the biology drives technology development. Current technology development projects include the development of a sophisticated and integrated ensemble including UHPLC-MS-SPE-NMR for the systematic and biologically driven annotation of plant metabolomes. This suite of tools is being applied to better understand carbon sequestration in cell wall lignin and lipids. The Sumner lab is also currently using integrated metabolomics for the discovery and characterization of triterpene saponin biosynthetic genes in the model legume Medicago truncatula. We have proven success in using this technology for a better understanding of natural products including flavonoids, isoflavonoids, terpenoids, and waxes.
The Sumner lab has a long and proven history of productive collaboration and has recently relocated to the University of Missouri where they are establishing a new University of Missouri Metabolomics Center (UMMC) to further enhance and enable additional collaborations. The UMMC will also provide regular training courses and continual educational opportunities for collaborators. Although Dr. Sumner spent most of the past 16 years at private, non-degree granting research institute, the Sumner lab has hosted approximately 20 undergraduate researchers over the years and welcomes the opportunity for more. The Sumner lab has also hosted approximate 15, one-week long, hands-on annual workshops that provided in-depth metabolomics and proteomics training for approximately 300 graduate students, postdocs, professional staff and faculty.
The Sumner lab is an internationally recognized leader in plant metabolomics, plant proteomics, and plant natural product biochemistry. Dr. Sumner has served as the President and Treasurer of the Metabolomics Society. Dr. Sumner is also the Principal Investigator of a recent Plant, Algae, and Microbial Research Coordination network initiative and he is the current President of the Phytochemical Society of America.