Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

Nikolau Research Group

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Dr. Nikolau is the Frances M. Craig Professor of Biochemistry at Iowa State University where he has taught and conducted research since 1988. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Massey University, New Zealand, in 1982, and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Utah before joining the faculty of Iowa State University. Dr. Nikolau's research interests focus on the biochemistry and molecular biology of biotin and biotin-containing enzymes and the regulation of plant lipid metabolism.

Nikolau group research is conducted in the Molecular Biology Building and the 4th floor of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL 4th).


Faculty Membership:


The Nikolau Research Group

Research in the Nikolau Group is focused on the comprehensive understanding of metabolism. The lab is particularly focused on the discovery and characterization of novel metabolic processes, and the associated biocatalysts, utilizing expanding genomics resources as the starting point for these endeavors.

The past decade has seen an explosion of genomics datasets, which have revolutionized the way biological systems are defined. Yet the majority of the gene sequences that are deposited at databases are ambiguously annotated relative to biochemical functionality.  These gaps in knowledge therefore offer opportunities for novel discoveries that can be used to generate innovative metabolic solutions to societally defined issues.

These research activities are providing opportunities for research-based education and training of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers.

News & Updates

Yandeau-Nelson promoted to Assistant Professor
September 22, 2014
Marna Yandeau-Nelson was recently promoted to Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology. Along with assuming teaching duties, she has established her own independent research group. Yandeau-Nelson had previously served as Associate Scientist with the Nikolau reasearch group. Congratulations, Marna!

Postdoc accepts new position
June 23, 2014
Congratulations and all best wishes to postdoc Wenmin Qin, who has accepted a position as technical account manager with GenScript in Nanjing, China. In her new position, Wenmin will serve as the primary technical source supporting regional sales. The Nikolau research group honored Wenmin at a farewell potluck on June 19.

NSF award announced
May 28, 2014
Congratulations to Libuse Brachova and Fuyuan Jing on being awarded a National Science Foundation grant for their project "SBIR Phase I: Novel enzymes for producing homogeneous preparations of individual, monounsaturated industrial fatty acids." The six-month award will provide $150,000 in support for their start-up business, VariFAS Biorenewables LLC.

Plant Physiology publication
May 15, 2014
Plant Physiology has published a research paper based on a new metabolomics database developed in collaboration between Iowa State University and the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science of Japan. The paper, titled "Metabolomic Characterization of Knock-Out Mutants in Arabidopsis - Development of a Metabolite Profiling Database for Knock-Out Mutants in Arabidopsis (MeKO)," was authored by Atsushi Fukushima, Miyako Kusano, Ramon Francisco Mejia, Mami Iwasa, Makoto Kobayashi, Naomi Hayashi, Akiko Watanabe-Takahashi, Tomoko Narisawa, Takayaki Tohge, Manhoi Hur, Eve Syrkin Wurtele, Basil J. Nikolau, and Kazuki Saito.
Plant Physiol. pp.114.240986; First Published on May 14, 2014; doi:10.1104/pp.114.240986

Former REU student awarded prestigious NSF fellowship
April 2, 2014
Riley Brien, a former REU student with the Nikolau research group, has been awarded a fellowship by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $32,000 plus a $12,000 cost of education allowance, and are free to conduct their own graduate research at their U.S. institution of choice. Out of a field of 14,000 applicants, only 2,000 were selected as GRFP fellows. Congratulations, Riley!

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