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Genomic analysis of fungal cell wall synthesis

science academy

Examine which sugars are made by different fungal species as cell wall components through genomic analysis.

The fungal cell wall is perhaps the most ideal target for the treatment of fungal pathogens. The fungal cell wall represents a considerable metabolic investment as it accounts for 15–30% of the cellular biomass. It plays such a momentous role to survival and maintaining homeostasis that up to 20% of genes in the fungal genome are associated with cell wall biogenesis.

The enzymes and signal transduction pathways that govern the synthesis of these cell wall components are prime targets for antifungal drugs. Knowledge of the cell wall composition and its biosynthesis will allow more targeted and tailored approaches towards disease control.

To date, only a small percentage of fungal cell walls have been characterised. The ability of fungi to generate the necessary sugar nucleotide substrates for the synthesis of various cell wall components is determined by the presence of the nucleotide sugar interconverting enzymes.

This project aims to characterise the distribution of each nucleotide sugar interconverting enzyme family across the available fungal genomes that have been fully sequenced. In doing so, we will generate a predictive map of what sugars each fungal species is capable of making and potentially incorporating into its cell wall.

You will develop skills in:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Cell wall biochemistry
  • Fungal pathology

Key References:
Gow, N.A., Latge, J.P. and Munro, C.A., 2017. The fungal cell wall: structure, biosynthesis, and function. Microbiology spectrum.


Supervisor

Tagged in Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Alan Little, Honours projects - Julian Schwerdt, Honours projects - Vincent Bulone