University of Melbourne
A/Prof Andrianopoulos’ laboratory studies molecular genetic and genomic aspects of morphogenesis as they relate to the control of growth, development and pathogenicity. The work uses a number of eukaryotic microbes including the human pathogenic fungus Talaromyces marneffei (formerly Penicillium marneffei) and the model experimental fungus Aspergillus nidulans. The work on T. marneffei uses genetic and system-wide approaches to understand at the molecular level how the biology of the organism impacts on its pathogenicity. In particular, the work focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control the dimorphic switching and asexual development (conidiation) programs. Dimorphic switching is a temperature- and host-dependent response that allows T. marneffei to switch from a non-pathogenic hyphal growth form to the pathogenic yeast form. The yeast form is specialized to survive with host innate immune cells. Asexual development is the program the produce asexual spores, the infectious particles. One aim is to tease out the mechanisms that control these programs and examining their effects on growth and pathogenesis in the host. The work using A. nidulans also uses genetic and system-wide approaches to understand at the molecular level how the phenomenon of developmental competence is regulated. The process of cellular differentiation, which underpins development, is triggered by inductive signals that come from outside and within cells. For cells to respond to these signals they must be competent and competence is achieved by epigenetic changes. One of the aims of this work is to understand at the genomic level what changes occur during the acquisition of developmental competence and how these effect the transition.