Aspergillus

Event Date: 
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 19:00 - 19:45
Institution: 
Australian National University
Title: 

Understanding Secondary Metabolite Biosynthesis as the Key to Unlock New Chemical Diversity in Fungi – from Viridicatumtoxin to the Immunosuppressive Neosartoricin

Abstract: 

The advancement of DNA sequencing technology has unlocked an unprecedented amount of microbial genomic information. These genome sequences also revealed a large number of secondary metabolite (SM) genes in both bacteria and fungi. For filamentous fungi in particular, the number of SM gene clusters encoded in the genome are often beyond the number of compounds that are reported for individual species. This is likely attributed to the tight regulation of the SM genes by the eukaryotic fungi compared to their prokaryotic counterparts, where some SM genes are only expressed in the presence of appropriate environmental signals. Research is currently going on to uncover new methods to activate these "silent" gene clusters. However, at the same time, continuously expanding our understanding of the relationship between SM compounds, the biosynthetic genes and microbial ecology will assists us in navigating the exponentially expanding seas of genomic information in the search for new bioactive compounds. The past four years, I have been involved in the elucidation of the SM pathways for viridicatumtoxin, griseofulvin, tryptoquialanine, cytochalasins, lovastatins, echinocandin, fumagilin and azaphilones. A specific example is given here on how the investigation into the genes and enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of an interesting molecule, viridicatumtoxin, eventually leads to the discovery of a new immunosuppressive compound, neosartoricin, from the human pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus and Neosartorya fischeri.

 
JAMS Monthly Meeting Report 29th August 2012
 
Prepared by Mike Manefield
 
Though faced with a depleted audience owing to strong attendance of JAMS members at the 14th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology in Copenhagen, Denmark, speakers Dr Oliver Morton, Ms Jazmin Oszvar and Ms Zoe-Joy Newby gave three entertaining and informative presentations with JAMS trademark diversity of subject.
 
Oliver kicked off with confessions of a clinical microbiologist in his presentation entitled ‘Beware the mulch! Adaptation to its natural habitat makes Aspergillus fumigatus a formidable human pathogen’. The presentation illustrated violent interactions between germinating Aspergillus spores and human dendritic cells including a stunning transcriptomics analysis of the response of Aspergillus fumigatus to the presence of human immature dendritic cells over time.
 

Event Date: 
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 18:00 - 18:15
Institution: 
University of Western Sydney
Title: 

Beware the mulch! Adaptation to its natural habitat makes Aspergillus fumigatus a formidable human pathogen.

Abstract: 

 
The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus can be found in decaying organic matter such as compost.  As an adaptable environmental microbe it can survive in a wide range of habitats including the lungs of birds and mammals.  It has become the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients undergoing stem cell transplantation.  The success of A. fumigatus as a pathogen can be attributed to its ability to cope with environmental stresses that are similar to the conditions encountered by microbes in the human body.  In particular the fungus can survive interactions with host immune cells such as dendritic cells.  In this talk the interaction of the fungus with human dendritic cells will be explored along with the usefulness of protozoan models to examine the pathogenicity of A. fumigatus.
 

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