Guanggan Hu, PhD
Michael Smith Laboratories
University of British Columbia
Genome variability can have a profound influence on the virulence of pathogenic microbes. We have previously used comparative genome hybridization (CGH) to examine genome variability between strains of different mating type, molecular subtype and ploidy. Our work revealed unexpected disomy for chromosome 13 in two haploid strains and preferential retention of specific chromosomes in three naturally occurring diploids. Genome variation may contribute to phenotypic (for example, drug resistance) and virulence differences between strains, mutants, and switch variants (Hu et al., 2008). Change in chromosome number may also be advantageous for fungal adaptation to different environmental niches. I am currently conducting more detailed CGH experiments to characterize the genome variation in serotype A and B strains of clinical significance and from novel populations.
I am also involved in genetic analysis of genes involved in iron acquisition by C. neoformans. We are currently screening a 30,000 of random insertion library from Agrobacterium-mediated transformation for mutants defective in iron (especially heme) uptake and utilization. Mutated genes will be identified and further characterized. The objective of the study is to provide more insights into mechanistic links between iron and fungal pathogenesis.