Ion channel function in fungal biology
Supervisor: Dr Steve Roberts
Ion channels play many essential roles in both animal and plant cell biology. In contrast, much less is known of the roles of ion channels in fungal biology, despite their apparent abundance in fungal membranes (Roberts et al., 1997; Roberts, 2004, Oddon et al., 2007). However, ion channels are hypothesised to play important roles in several key areas of fungal biology, many of which are expected to have strategic importance for the biotechnology, agricultural, pharmaceutical and food industries. For example, organic anion secretion by fungi (which is exploited on an industrial scale for the production of a variety of organic acids) is likely to be controlled by anion efflux channels and plasma membrane ion channels, due to their sub-cellular location, are viewed as attractive new targets for the design of antifungal drugs.We have identified a number of novel genes which encode functional ion channels in Aspergilli spp. The successful applicant will build on these exciting discoveries and employ a range of molecular biological and electrophysiological techniques to elucidate their physiological roles. This will include the generation and phenotypic analyses of null mutants and heterologous expression approaches. The project will offer a good degree of flexibility which will be suited to those students looking for experience of a range of contemporary laboratory techniques and with a general interest in cell biology and/or microbiology.
Roberts et al. (1997) New Phytologist, 137, 579-585, Roberts, S. K. (2003). Eukaryotic Cell 2, 181-190. Oddon D. et al. (2007). BBA Biomembranes 1768, 2466 - 2477
The student will work within the Microbiology Group and will be supervised by Dr Stephen Roberts and Dr Michael Ginger.