Mucorales species including Rhizopus microsporus and Rhizopus delemar, commonly associated with food spoilage, also cause fatal invasive mucormycosis. Infecting spores escape early immune cell clearance and germinate into invasive hyphae, causing devastating disease.

Work in our group has demonstrated that the ability of Rhizopus spores to germinate and escape clearance is influenced by the presence of bacterial endosymbionts that can impact both fungal host and phagocyte behaviors. We seek to understand this tri-kingdom interaction at both the transcriptional level and in the context of animal infections, including zebrafish and mouse models of infection.

This work began through a collaboration with Dr Kirsten Voelz’ lab at the University of Birmingham, and has continued since the Voelz lab closed in 2017. This work is funded by studentships from the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership.