Principal Investigators

Yeasts belonging to the genera Candida and Cryptococcus are important pathogens in immunocompromised persons, causing from mild disease to lethal infections. The importance of understanding these pathogens and finding ways of combating these infections is highlighted by the fact that Prof Carlien Pohl is the current holder of the NRF SARChI research chair in pathogenic yeasts.


The Pathogenic Yeast Research Group focuses on molecular mechanisms of virulence and the role of bioactive lipids in the pathogenic yeasts, Cryptococcus neoformans and several Candida species. In order to study the molecular mechanisms behind the virulence of these yeasts, we are constructing several CRISPR-Cas9 gene deletion systems to efficiently delete and modify genes in order to study their effects. An important aim is to develop microbial growth control strategies by identifying novel drug targets and drugs. This includes the re-purposing of drugs that are typically used to treat non-infectious conditions as anti-Cryptococcus drugs in vitro and using Acanthamoeba castellanii and macrophages as models of phagocytic cells.

Polymicrobial biofilm of Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
 Polymicrobial biofilm of Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

The Research Group is also interested in the virulence of polymicrobial infections consisting of Candida albicans and the bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in vitro and in Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode) as an invertebrate infection model, to study this interaction.

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Candida albicans yeast and hyphae showing mitochondria in red fluorescence

Candida albicans yeast cells showing vacuoles in green fluorescence
Candida albicans yeast cells showing vacuoles in green fluorescence

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Candida albicans yeast and hyphae showing lipid droplets in blue fluorescence

Recent Featured Publications

Fourie R and Pohl CH (2019) Beyond antagonism: the interaction between Candida species and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Journal of Fungi 5: art 34.  PDF

Madende M, Albertyn J, Sebolai O and Pohl CH (2019) Caenorhabditis elegans as a model animal for investigating fungal pathogenesis. Medical Microbiology and Immunology. PDF 

Madu UL and Sebolai OM (2019) Complementary use of microscopic techniques and fluorescence  reading in studying Cryptococcus-amoeba interactions. Journal of Visualized Experiments 148: e58698. Video Abstract 

Ogundeji A, Porotloane B, Pohl C, Kendrekar P and Sebolai O (2018) Copper acyl salicylate has potential as an anti-Cryptococcus anti-fungal agent. Antimicrobial Agents and  Chemotherapy 62: e02345-17. PDF

Recent News and Highlights

Prof Albertyn and two PhD students (Eduvan Bisschoff and Ruan Fourie) attended the 35th International Specialised Symposium on Yeasts in Antalya, Turkey, where they presented three talks and a poster on their recent work on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 in pathogenic and non-pathogenic yeasts as well as the effect of antifungal fatty acids on yeast drug efflux pumps.

Prof Albertyn, in his capacity as Yeast Commissioner, also attended the annual Yeast Commissioner meeting. During this meeting South Africa received the bid the host the 15th International Congress on Yeasts which will be held in Cape Town in 2024.

Prof Albertyn and two PhD students (Eduvan Bisschoff and Ruan Fourie) attended the 35th International Specialised Symposium on Yeasts in Antalya, Turkey


FACULTY CONTACT

Faculty Manager: Velaphi Makgwahla
T: + 27 51 401 3199
E: makgwahlamvt@ufs.ac.za

Marketing Manager: Elfrieda Lötter
T: +27 51 401 2531
E: lottere@ufs.ac.za

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