The underlying theme of studies in the Musah research lab is in the mechanisms by which the redox versatility of sulfur is exploited by Nature to solve challenging issues in the chemical biology of plants and some viruses. The development of spectroscopic and mass spectrometric tools and methods that can be used to probe reactions involving organosulfur species are also of interest, as the tracking of organosulfur reaction intermediates presents unique challenges not often encountered with other elements. Our investigations have led to advances in the understanding of:
- the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of organosulfur natural products;
- the importance of organosulfur secondary metabolites in the preservation of plant safety and health;
- the possible utility of organosulfur natural products as potential drugs, or in agriculture as environmentally benign allelopathic or pest control agents;
- how sulfur-metal coordination imparts high levels of specificity in protein-nucleic acid binding, as observed in the binding of zinc finger proteins to nucleic acids.
We have recently expanded our program to include studies on the impact of plant derived organosulfur compounds on the environment. Additionally, we have discovered that some of the mass spectrometric methods that we have developed for the study of organosulfur chemistry have applications in the examination of plant-based forensics evidence as well as plant metabolome profiling and secondary metabolite biosynthesis. More information on various facets of our work can be found within the subheadings below: