Yeasts belonging to the genera Candida and Cryptococcus are essential pathogens in immunocompromised persons, causing from mild disease to lethal infections. The importance of understanding these pathogens and finding ways of combatting 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 other members of this group are Prof Koos Albertyn and Prof Olihile Sebolai.
The research is mainly focused on three areas:


Biofilm Yeast

Candida species

Various pathogenic Candida species, including C. albicans and C. auris, are studied to understand molecular mechanisms of virulence, drug resistance, interaction with other pathogens, and the role of bioactive lipids during infection. Current projects include:

  • Interaction between Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • The search for novel drugs and drug targets

Cryptococcus neoformans and related species

We are particularly interested in the role of cryptococcal virulence factors in promoting the survival of cryptococcal species in mammalian hosts (through using models) and enhancing the pathogenesis of other microbes. Additionally, we study microbial growth control strategies via identifying novel drug targets, including drug repurposing.

Colapsed yeast

Budding yeast


Current projects include:

  • The role of fungal proteases (including cryptococcal) in promoting the entry of viruses into host cells
  • The search for “new” drugs through the repurposing of “old” drugs


  • To study the molecular mechanisms behind the virulence of these yeasts, we are developing several gene deletion systems, including CRISPR, to efficiently delete and modify genes to study their effects. We also study these pathogens in different infection models:
  • Wax moth (Galleria mellonella)
  • Nematode (Caenorhabditis elegans)
  • Amoeba (Acanthamoeba castellanii)
  • Murine macrophages
  • Zebra fish (Danio rerio

Co culture

Spiky yeast

Prof Carlien Pohl-Albertyn

Prof Carolina Pohl-Albertyn


Prof Koos Albertyn

Prof Koos Albertyn


Dr Olihile Sebolai

Prof Olihile Sebolai



Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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