Pathogenic Yeast Research Group

Interaction between Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

This project centres around the fact that many infections are not only by one organism, but are in fact polymicrobial in nature. These pathogens, not only influence the host, but also each other in various ways. This may ultimately influence the level of disease caused.  Ruan is studying the interaction between Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa from the perspective of Candida. He is also looking at the role of the fatty acid (arachidonic acid) in this interaction. Bonang is looking at how the competition for iron influences the interaction between these organisms and Eduan is looking at the interaction from the perspective of Pseudomonas. Nthabiseng and Ana-Luiza are studying co-infection by these pathogens of the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. This nematode is used as a non-mammalian infection model.

Dr Ana-Luiza Silva

Postdoctoral Fellow
analuiza0201@gmail.com

Ruan Fourie

PhD Student
fourier2@icloud.com

Eduan Hellmuth

PhD Student
eduanhellmuth@live.com

Bonang Mochochoko

PhD Student
bmstmichael@gmail.com

Nthabiseng Mokoena

PhD Student
zeldajoymokoena@gmail.com

In search of novel drug targets

The projects of these students revolve around the fact that polyunsaturated fatty acids can potentiate the activity of antifungal drugs in Candida albicans. By understanding how this works, new genes important for antifungal resistance/susceptibility have been identified and are investigated by Culien and Cobus. This project also lead to the observation that the activity of drug efflux pumps of the yeasts is inhibited by fatty acids. The mechanisms around this is studied in notoriously resistant yeasts, Candida kruseii (Abdullahi) and Candida auris (Toluwase)

Oluwasegun Kuloyo

PhD Student
skuloyo@gmail.com

Toluwase Adedoja

MSc Student
adedojaadesola@gmail.com

Cobus Brink

MSc Student
jtrbrink1@gmail.com

Abdullahi Jamui

MSc Student
abdullahijamiu45@gmail.com

Culien van der Merwe

MSc Student
culien.vandermerwe@gmail.com

Cryptococcus: 3-hydroxy fatty acids

For Cryptococcus, the focus is on 3-hydroxy fatty acids, which is a component of the protective capsule around the yeasts cells. By understanding the biological function (Nyakallo) of this fatty acid and how it protects Cryptococcus neoformans from phagocytoses by macrophages (Olufemi), this may lead to development of strategies to prevent this protective measures.

 Dr Olufemi Folorunso

Postdoctoral Fellow
FolorunsoOF@ufs.ac.za

Nyakallo Pilenyane

MSc Student
nyakallopilenyane@yahoo.com

Pseudomonas aeruginosa: 3-hydroxy fatty acids

Another study deals with the role of 3-hydroxy fatty acids in the pathogenesis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. As such it ties in with the other projects on this bacterium as well as the production of these fatty acids as potential drug targets

Evodia Kgotle

PhD student
kgotlepalesa@yahoo.com 

In search of new anti-fungal/antimicrobial drugs

One of the fastest ways of obtaining new antifungal drugs, is to repurpose drugs already approved for use in humans (for other diseases) as antifungals. In this regards Biotumelo and Nozethu are looking at repurposing aspirin derivatives as novel anti-Cryptococcal drugs and Lynda is repurposing antimalarial drugs as anti-Cryptococcal drugs

Lynda Madu

PhD Student
lynda.madu@yahoo.com

Nozethu Mjokane

MSc Student
nmjokane@gmail.com

Boitumelo Porotloane

MSc Student
tumipory@gmail.com

Environmental/host factors that influence resistance and virulence of yeasts

Cryptococcus neoformans is an environmental yeast that can also survive in the mammalian host. Many of the virulence traits it has, has been developed in response to environmental pressures, especially predation by amoeba. The yeasts has developed an effective protective mechanism, including the capsule, to protect it from predation. This has also allowed it to survive within macrophages in mammals. The different mechanisms by which this is done are studied by Adepemi, Maphori, Mathope and Olufemi. Masego is studying virulence factors of Candida parapsilosis (the major cause of candidaemia in premature babies) and Precious is looking at the influence of the different carbon sources available to Candida albicans in the host on the interaction between the yeast and macrophages.

 Dr Olufemi Folorunso

Postdoctoral Fellow
FolorunsoOF@ufs.ac.za

Dr Adepemi Odundeji

Postdoctoral Fellow
OgundejiAO@ufs.ac.za

Masego Moncho

PhD Student
MonchoMM@ufs.ac.za

Precious Letebele

MSc Student
letebeleprecious@gmail.com

Mathope Ntoi

MSc Student
mathope.ntoi@gmail.com

Maphori Maliehe

 BSc Hons student
maphorimaliehe1@gmail.com

Development of CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing tools for resistant Candida species

In order to study all these aspects of yeast virulence on a molecular level, one has to be able to delete genes to study their specific functions. This can be done by using the new, cutting edge technology – CRISPR-Cas9. Although systems for C. albicans have been developed, these are not yet available for many other yeasts, including C. kruseii and C. auris. Eduvan, Tristen and Armand are developing this for C. auris and Abdullahi is developing such a system for C. kruseii.

Eduvan Bisschoff

 PhD Student
eduvanbisschoff@gmail.com

Abdullahi Jamui

MSc student
abdullahijamiu45@gmail.com

Armand Bolsenbroek

 BSc Hons Student
bolsenbroekarmand@gmail.com

Tristen Lourens

 BSc Hons Student
lourenstristen@gmail.com

Investigation into virulence potential of Cutaneotrichosporon cyanovorans associated with lungs of cyctic fibrosis patients

Cutaneotrichosporon cyanovorans was previously isolated from soil contaminated with cyanide in South Africa. Recently it has also been isolated from the lungs of several patients with cystic fibrosis. It is unknown if it causes infection of these patients or just colonization. Therefore Aurelia is investigating the potential of these yeasts to produce virulence factors (incl. biofilm formation, hydrolytic enzymes and production of pro-inflammatory compounds). She will also investigate the interaction between this yeast and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Aurelia Jansen

MSc Student
VanWykAG@ufs.ac.za



BLOEMFONTEIN CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531
E:vdberge@ufs.ac.za

QWAQWA CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284
E:naturalscienceqq@ufs.ac.za

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