Todd Reynolds, associate professor of microbiology, is a specialist in microbial genetics and pathogenesis. He has recently published an article on biofilm formation by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that merited the cover of the prestigious journal Genes, Genomes, and Genetics. Using sophisticated genetic and biochemical methods, Reynolds and co-workers found that a specific cell-wall-signaling pathway component controlled biofilm formation. This information may be useful in finding therapies for important fungal pathogens.
Biofilms are the preferred mode of most microorganisms in the environment and in/on humans. A biofilm is a community of cells that aggregates and colonizes a surface. Yeast is an attractive fungal model system to study genes important for biofilm formation because it is capable of forming an elaborate multicellular biofilm or mat and is easily manipulated genetically. In addition, S. cerevisiae is a useful model for understanding the important fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Biofilms by C. albicans are a serious problem in clinical settings, where they colonize implanted medical devices such as catheters and heart valves, and cause systemic infections with an associated very high mortality rate. There is a great need to find new drugs used to treat such infections.