Elizabeth Skellam | BioDiscovery Institute

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Elizabeth Skellam

Assistant Professor

Elizabeth Skellam obtained her MChem in Chemistry from the University of Wales Swansea, UK. She then moved to the University of Bristol, UK, and received a PhD in Chemistry after studying natural products biosynthesis in fungi, focused on how multifunctional enzymes synthesize complex metabolites using simple building blocks. Following her doctoral studies Dr. Skellam received a MARBIONC Business of Biotechnology fellowship and moved to the University of North Carolina Wilmington as a Visiting Research Assistant Professor in 2011. There she was involved in genome mining and metabolic engineering of marine actinobacteria and cyanobacteria. In parallel she earned a second Master's degree, in Business Administration (MBA), directly related to the commercialization of natural products' research. In 2014 she moved to Leibniz University Hannover, Germany, accepting a permanent appointment in 2015, and began to build her independent research profile. Dr. Skellam will join the Department of Chemistry and the BioDiscovery at UNT in Fall 2020. Her lab will focus on natural product biosynthetic pathway elucidation and engineering to generate and develop novel biocatalysts and bioactive molecules with potential use for the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, food, and cosmetic industries.

Current research interests:

  • Discovering and elucidating novel molecules, complex secondary metabolite pathways, and unusual biosynthetic enzymes from microorganisms using chemical and biological methods
  • Developing heterologous expression systems to overcome low titres and to combine biosynthetic pathways for the production of unnatural natural products
  • Enzyme engineering to rapidly generate small libraries of bioactive small molecules with commercial applications

Current grants:

  • German Research Foundation (DFG), Skellam (Co-PI),01/01/2018 -31/12/2020, "Understanding and Exploiting Fungal Bisorbicillinoid Biosynthesis"

Most significant publications:

  1. Wang C, Lambert C, Zeilinger C, Stradal T, Rottner K, Stadler M, Skellam E, and Cox RJ (2020), "Diversely functionalised cytochalasins via mutasynthesis and semi‐synthesis", Chemistry: a European Journal; (accepted, DOI: 10.1002/chem.202002241).
  2. Kahlert L, Bassiony E, Cox RJ and Skellam E* (2020), "Diels-Alder reactions during the biosynthesis of sorbicillinoids", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 59, 5816 - 5822.
  3. Hantke V, Skellam E and Cox RJ (2020), "Evidence for Enzyme Catalysed Intramolecular [4+2] Diels-Alder Cyclization During the Biosynthesis of Pyrichalasin H", Chemical Communications, 2020, 56, 2925 - 2928.

* Highlighted in "Hot off the Press", Nat. Prod. Rep., 2020, 37, 472-476*

  1. Wang C, Hantke V, Cox RJ and Skellam E* (2019), "Targeted gene inactivations expose silent cytochalasans in Magnaporthegrisea NI980", Organic Letters, 21, 11, 4163-4167.

*Highlighted in "Hot off the Press", Nat. Prod. Rep., 2019, 36, 1039-1043*

  1. Skellam E* (2019), "Strategies for engineering natural product biosynthesis in fungi", Trends in Biotechnology, 37, 416-427.

*Featured Front Page Article*

  1. Wang C, Becker K, Pfuetze S, Kuhnert E, Stadler M, Cox RJ and Skellam E*(2019) "Investigating the Function of Cryptic Cytochalasan Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenases Using Combinatorial Biosynthesis", Organic Letters, 21, 21, 8756-8760.
  2. Hantke V, Wang C, Skellam E and Cox RJ (2019), "Function of pathway specific regulators in the ACE1 and pyrichalasin H biosynthetic gene clusters", RSC Advances, 9, 35797-35802.
  3. Skellam E* (2017), "The biosynthesis of cytochalasans", Natural Product Reports, 34, 1252-1263.
  4. Song Z, Bakeer WIMM, Marshall JW, Yakasai AA, Khalid RM, Collemare J, Skellam E, Tharreau D, Lebrun MH, Lazarus CM, Bailey AM, Simpson TJ & Cox RJ (2015), "Heterologousexpression of the avirulence gene ACE1 from the fungal rice pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae", Chemical Science, 6, 4837-4845.

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