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

Nikolau Research Group

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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.


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:

News & Updates

Journal publications
February 3, 2016
Plant Journal has epublished a paper authored by Xin Guan and Basil Nikolau titled AAE13 encodes a dual-localized malonyl-CoA synthetase that is crucial for mitochondrial fatty acid biosynthesis.

Metabolic Engineering has published a paper authored by Shivani Garg, Luda Rizhsky, Huanan Jin, X Yu, Fuyuan Jing, Marna Yandeau-Nelson and Basil Nikolau titled Microbial production of bi-functional molecules by diversification of the fatty acid pathway.

Congratulations, everyone!

Garg accepts new position
January 26, 2016
Congratulations and all best wishes to Shivani Garg, who has accepted a new postdoctoral position in Dr. Ramon Gonzalez' lab at Rice University, Houston, TX. At Rice, Shivani will work on engineering methanotrophic bacteria to convert methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into useful liquid fuels, such as butanol. The Nikolau group honored Shivani at a farewell potluck on January 25.

Postdoc joins Nikolau group
January 26, 2016
A big welcome to postdoc Ryan Sturms who has joined the Nikolau research group. While here, he will work on an Iowa Energy Center funded project focused on characterizing the lubrication properties of omega-hydroxylated fatty acids.

New PhD student
January 26, 2016
We welcome PhD student Sara Hazinia to the Nikolau group. Sara, whose research interests include plant metabolomics and biochemistry, is in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) interdisciplinary graduate program. Welcome, Sara!

New Plant Journal article
September 28, 2015
Congratulations to Xin Guan and Basil Nikolau on their new Plant Journal article, A phosphopantetheinyl transferase that is essential for mitochondrial fatty acid biosynthesis, epublished on September 24.

CBiRC funding extended
September 4, 2015
The National Science Foundation has awarded the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) an additional three years of funding. Full story.


News & Updates Archives