1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Division of Biology Seminar Oct. 5

K-State Today

October 4, 2018

Division of Biology Seminar Oct. 5

Submitted by Division of Biology

Kenneth Nickerson, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, will present "A Physiologist Looks at Candida albicans: Farnesol, Quorum Sensing, and Virulence" as part of the Division of biology Seminar Series at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, in 221 Ackert Hall.

The abstract for the lecture will cover the dimorphic fungus Candida albicans that is currently the most important fungal pathogen of humans. The ability to transition between yeast and mycelial growth is essential for its pathogenicity. They found that this dimorphism was cell density dependent and that it was mediated by farnesol, the first eukaryotic quorum sensing molecule to be identified. Subsequently, Nickerson found that farnesol also acted as a virulence factor in a mouse model of candidiasis, primarily by activating and attracting mouse macrophages, and that it triggered apoptosis in several other fungi including Aspergillus nidulans. A key question for this seminar is how C. albicans tolerates levels of farnesol which are toxic to many/most other fungi. Two items: The first will be a brief consideration of ubiquinone chain length. C. albicans has UQ9 whereas most other Candida species have UQ7 and Saccharomyces cerevisiae uses UQ6. The second concerns why clinical isolates of C. albicans are almost always diploid. We have examined a collection of haploid isolates from Judy Berman’s lab (5 a and 5 α) with regard to their farnesol production, farnesol sensitivity, and fluconazole sensitivity. The differences observed suggest that farnesol may also have provided the evolutionary driving force for the diploid nature of C. albicans.

If you would like to visit with Nickerson, please contact Govind Vediyappan at gvediyap@k-state.edu