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Biosciences Research Seminar - Micronutrient scavenging in human fungal pathogens

Part of the Biosciences lunchtime research seminar series

A Biosciences seminar
Date4 June 2020
Time12:30 to 13:30

Speaker: Dr Duncan Wilson, Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow, MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, Exeter Biosciences. Seminar held via Teams.



Our immune systems effectively prevent the vast majority of microbes from causing disease. One of the fundamental mechanisms underpinning this defence is called "nutritional immunity".

This is a system in which the human body withholds access to certain essential trace minerals that microbes require for growth. Pathogenic microbes therefore must have evolved strategies to circumvent nutritional immunity in order to grow within their host and cause disease.

Zinc is absolutely essential for the growth of all microbes and my group is using molecular approaches in the model fungal pathogen Candida albicans to understand how fungi adapt to nutritional immunity during infections.

The fungus scavenges zinc from its environment via two distinct mechanisms: a transporter and a secreted “zincophore”. It also mobilises intracellular zinc stockpiles to proliferate and cause disease.     

This is important because fungal pathogens are a huge threat to human health, responsible for more deaths per year than malaria, and understanding how pathogens feed during infection may pave the way to novel therapeutics.

Seminar_Series_poster_04062020.pdf (304K)

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