Cell cycle checkpoints underpin virulence of the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae

TEM of rice blast fungus Magnaporthe grisea appressorium plus penetration peg.

Novel strategies for diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections

The Aspergillus-specific monoclonal antibody JF5 enables in vivo imaging of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis.

Fungal Biology

Our research focus

There has been a long tradition of fungal biology research at Exeter, and this legacy continues in our Fungal Biology grouping. This multi-disciplinary group comprises internationally renowned scientists with extensive research programmes in plant-fungal interactions, molecular plant pathology, biological control, medical mycology and human disease diagnostics, and modelling of fungal diseases. Our research specialisms include: cellular and molecular biology; molecular genetics; functional genomics; synthetic biology; hybridoma technology and monoclonal antibodies; molecular imaging; fungal virulence and pathogenesis; food security and crop diseases; climate change and global movement of fungal pathogens; fungal biotechnology.

We have strong links with the Plant Biology and Plant-Microbe Interactions research grouping.

Recent research highlights

Signalling completion of the cell cycle in Candida albicans

The mitotic exit network (MEN) is a signalling cascade in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that triggers exit from mitosis and activates cell separation. Research by Steven Bates has focused on the role of this pathway in the important opportunistic human pathogen Candida albicans.  Although the overall role of the network is conserved there are key differences in the role of the individual components in these two species, and in particular the final output from the network that drives mitotic exit must differ.

Bates S. (2018). Sci Rep. 8(1):8899.

Cell cycle checkpoints underpin virulence of the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae

Research led by Nick Talbot has revealed how two independent cell cycle checkpoints in the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae are critical for the formation of the appressorium, the specialized infection structure that enables entry of the fungus into host tissue.

Osés-Ruiz M et al. (2017). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 114(2):E237-E244.

Studies reveal coordinated fungal cell wall formation

Research led by Gero Steinberg and Sarah Gurr has provided striking new insight into how fungal cell wall formation is coordinated, a process that is critical for polarized fungal growth and invasion of animal and plant hosts. In their studies of Ustilago maydis, they observe that cell wall synthases are co-delivered in transport vesicles and cooperate in cell wall formation following their co-secretion.

Schuster M et al. (2016). Nat Microbiol. 1(11):16149.

Novel strategies for diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections.

Christopher Thornton, working with a network of European collaborators, has developed a novel immunodiagnostic that allows the noninvasive diagnosis of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, a life-threatening lung disease caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. This technology has enormous potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening fungal infections.

Rolle AM et al. (2016). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 113(8):E1026-33