|Professor, Dept. Medical Microbiology & Toxicology; Dept. Bacteriology|
1550 Linden Drive
Fungi are ubiquitious microbes that can both benefit and harm society. Our laboratory focus’s on harmful fungi that grow and secret toxins in the edible portion of food and feed crops. Fungal toxins that are found in crops are called mycotoxins. There are three main classes (called genera) of mycotoxin producing fungi: Aspergillus, Penicillium and Fusarium. Our lab works with all three genera where we try to identify (1) genes/molecules/signals that are important for mycotoxin production by these fungi, (2) genes/molecules/signals that are important for growth and survival of these fungi and (3) interactions of these fungi with other microbes. By characterizing such genes/molecules/signals/interactions, we can then create new strategies to combat these fungi to either prevent them from growing on food and feed crops or lessen their ability to produce mycotoxins on food and feed crops. This work is more important than ever as there are many scientific studies showing that climate change is likely to increase the levels of mycotoxins in our food and feed crops. Other major topics in the lab include mining fungal genomes and ensuing chemistries for potentially useful anti-infectives and pharmaceuticals.