Student Level: Honours or Masters
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a unique unicellular fungus that causes opportunistic disease known as Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP). Multi locus sequence typing (MLST) is an advance molecular techniques to compare trains or genotypes. This study will focus on the the development and application of a new consensus MLST scheme to characterize the genetic diversity and epidemiology of P. jirovecii.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a unique unicellular fungus that causes opportunistic disease known as Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP), which carries high morbidity and mortally rates in certain risk groups. Although it is the most prevalent opportunistic disease in AIDS patients, it is much more life threatening in patients who are severely immunocompromised but are not infected with HIV. Prevention is essential to many of these risk groups, but this is not always possible, since many aspects of the organism still remain uncertain, such as its ecological niche or its route of transmission. Unfortunately, P. jirovecii cannot be cultivated nor propagated outside of the human host lungs, which has been a major setback in studies of PCP. The diagnosis currently relies heavily on the visualization of the organism. Therefore, in the past two decades molecular methods have increasingly been implemented in PCP studies, especially for epidemiological investigations. Among Pneumocystis studies, multi locus sequence typing (MLST) is considered to be currently the most advance approach for the analysis of genetic diversity. MLST, using partial sequence analysis of housekeeping genes, has become the number one typing approach for epidemiological investigations of microorganisms. Studies have shown MLST to have a high discriminatory power, great sensitivity and, reproducibility. MLST compares polymorphisms between genotypes of clinical samples, for identification of genetic variations amongst samples, and in turn analyzing Pneumocystis genetic diversity. However, there is no consensus MLST scheme for P. jirovecii, thus this project will look at the development and application of a new consensus MLST scheme to P. jirovecii.
Methods: Identification of new genes for MLST typing, Designing universal primers, Optimization of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) conditions, Sequencing, Data analyses.
Supervisors: Professor Wieland Meyer - firstname.lastname@example.org