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K-State Today

March 9, 2023

Biosecurity Research Institute Research Fellows Lecture March 9

Submitted by Biosecurity Research Institute

Marin Brewer, William Terrell distinguished professor in the department of plant pathology at the University of Georgia, will present the next Marty Vanier and Bob Krause Biosecurity Research Institute Research Fellows Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in the BRI lecture hall and via Zoom.

Aspergillus fumigatus is a plant-associated human pathogen that causes aspergillosis, an environmentally acquired lung disease that affects mostly the immunocompromised. The first line of treatment for invasive aspergillosis is azole antifungals, but when strains are resistant mortality is nearly 100%. Several studies have shown that resistance to azoles in A. fumigatus develops in agricultural environments where azole fungicides are widely used to combat plant-pathogenic fungi.

In the seminar, Brewer will discuss why A. fumigatus and aspergillosis are a concern, the evidence that antifungal resistance develops in agricultural environments and the environmental reservoirs of azole-resistant A. fumigatus in the United States. Lastly, she will share what plant pathologists and fungal biologists can do to better understand and mitigate this issue so these important compounds can be maintained for the continued treatment of plants and people. 

Brewer teaches two courses on fungi at the University of Georgia every year, including Mycology, which focuses on the taxonomy and biology of fungi, and the very popular Fungi, Friends and Foes, an overview of the impact of fungi on human civilization. Her research focuses on the evolution and diversity of fungal threats to plants and people with interests in the genetic basis of disease emergence and host specialization, the evolution of fungicide resistance and fungal mating systems, and the taxonomy and systematics of fungi causing emerging plant diseases in the southeastern United States. Recent work in the Brewer lab is concentrated on azole resistance in the human pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus in environmental settings. Her research has been funded by diverse agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Those unable to attend in person can join the Zoom meeting between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. After 3:30 p.m., people will not be able to enter the meeting.