Effects of microbiome diversity and indole on Candida albicans infections in Caenorhabditis elegans

Jacqueline Spieles

Name: Jacqueline Spieles
Major: Biology
Advisors: Dr. Stephanie Strand, Dr. Richard Lehtinen

The opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans causes infections in humans that are common yet difficult to treat. C. albicans virulence relies upon the organism’s ability to assume a filamentous cell form in a host. The bacterial quorum-sensing molecule indole has been shown to inhibit this filamentation and has become the basis for some anti-fungal drugs. More generally, symbiotic microbes as part of a host microbiome are known to have various protective effects against pathogenic infections in hosts. However, interactions between indole and host microbiomes are poorly understood. This study has aimed to compare and contrast the effects of indole and microbiome diversity on infected host outcomes to help fill this knowledge gap. Using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, infection killing assays and immune gene expression measurements were carried out to examine differences in survival and immune responses between varying indole and microbiome diversity conditions. One major finding of this work is the additive effect of indole presence and high microbiome diversity on host survival rates. This result may point to a future avenue for the treatment of fungal infections through the merging of drug-based and probiotic-biotherapeutic treatment methods.

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Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2022.

One response to “Effects of microbiome diversity and indole on Candida albicans infections in Caenorhabditis elegans”

  1. Doug Spieles says:

    Good work Jackie! Interesting parallel with macro ecosystems, which also show greater resistance to invasion with greater diversity.