Dangerous beauty: Fungal flowers offer clues to biofilm formation on medical implants

postdoctoral fellow in the Fink lab and first author on the paper, set out to look for a yeast protein that allows them to stick to surfaces. When he made the yeast grow in a jello-like medium, the yeast began to spread out forming beautiful floral patterns. Reynolds pinpointed FLO11 as a necessary gene for this ability. He then found that the same gene also allowed yeast to stick to hard plastic surfaces. When the Fink lab disrupted FLO11, yeast no longer formed wide spreading floral patterns and couldnt stick to hard plastic surfaces.

Scientists were excited with this finding because they knew that FLO11 belongs to a large family of genes present in many pathogenic fungi. "The system that initiates the formation of a biofilm in baker's yeast potentially can hold true for pathogenic Candida as well. Once molecules involved in this process are identified, then we can search for similar molecules in Candida with the ultimate goal of finding new drug targets to prevent pathogenic biofilm formation in patients," says Reynolds.

The researchers are now using DNA arraysDNA chips that can analyze the activity of thousands of genes simultaneouslyto understand how FLO11 works in conjunction with other genes to bring about this effect.


Contact: Nadia Halim
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

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