Over the last 2 decades, the nematode C. elegans has become an important model for the study of host-pathogen interactions. It deploys a wide range of strategies to defend itself against infection. The first is pathogen evasion. Through chemosensation, C. elegans is able to detect specific microbial products, such as surfactants and quorum sensing molecules, and has the capacity to learn to avoid particular pathogens. If C. elegans is infected, this generally triggers the expression of defence programmes, involving the transcriptional up-regulation of hundreds of genes, with profound effects on physiology.
Lately, we have focused our studies on the epidermal innate response to a natural fungal pathogen. We have combined genetics, functional genomics, biochemistry and cell biology to build up a picture of the complex cross-talk between multiple cellular homeostatic processes and cellular stress that underlies anti-fungal innate immunity. In addition to cell-autonomous defences, the immune response involves reciprocal communication with the nervous system, with an impact on development, sleep and neurodegeneration. In parallel, we have begun to explore the basis of fungal virulence and uncovered a remarkable variety of strategies that contribute to pathogenesis and fungal manipulation of host physiology.
This seminar will be given online via Zoom. Details in attached poster.