Yeasts belonging to the genera Candida and Cryptococcus are important pathogens in immunocompromised persons, causing mild diseases 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 virulence mechanisms and the role of bioactive lipids in the pathogenic yeasts, Cryptococcus neoformans and several Candida species. To study the molecular mechanisms behind the virulence of these yeasts, several CRISPR-Cas9 gene deletion systems are constructed to efficiently delete and modify genes to study their effects. An important aim is to develop microbial growth control strategies by identifying novel drug targets and drugs. This includes repurposing drugs typically used to treat non-infectious conditions as anti-Cryptococcus drugs in vitro and using Acanthamoeba castellanii and macrophages as models of phagocytic cells.

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

Polymicrobial biofilm of Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Co culture

 Polymicrobial biofilm of Candida albicans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Candida albicans yeast cells showing vacuoles in green fluorescence

Candida albicans yeast cells showing vacuoles in green fluorescence


Candida albicans yeast and hyphae showing lipid droplets in blue fluorescence


Candida albicans yeast and hyphae showing mitochondria in red fluorescence

Principal Investigators


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


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

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