Richard Bennett –Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department, Brown University, Providence, USA
Candida albicans is a frequent commensal of the human body and an opportunistic pathogen of both mucosal and systemic niches. Our laboratory looks at the mechanisms used by C. albicans to generate phenotypic diversity and to adapt to different niches in the host. Genetic mechanisms that increase diversity include an unusual parasexual mating cycle in which a non-meiotic program of concerted chromosome loss reduces the ploidy of mating products. We also examine epigenetic mechanisms such as those responsible for reversible ‘phenotypic switching’ between alternative fungal cell states. Models of gastrointestinal tract colonization and disseminated disease are used to determine how genetic and epigenetic diversity in C. albicans impact infection outcomes.