Charissa de Bekker
Study systems include
van Veluw, G.J., Teertstra, W.R., de Bekker, C., Vinck, A., van Beek, N., Muller, W.H., Arentshorst, M., van der Mei, H.C., Ram, A.F.J., Dijksterhuis, J., & Wösten, H.A.B. Heterogeneity in liquid shaken cultures of Aspergillus niger inoculated with melanised conidia or conidia of pigmentation mutants. 2013 Studies in Mycology doi:10.3114/sim0008
de Bekker, C., Bruning, Jonker, M.J., O., Breit, T. M., & Wösten, H.A.B. Single cell transcriptomics of neighboring hyphae of Aspergillus niger. 2011 Gen. Biol. 12:R71 doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-8-r71
de Bekker, C., van Veluw, G.J., Vinck, A., Wiebenga, L.A., & Wösten, H.A.B. Heterogeneity in micro-colonies of Aspergillus niger in liquid shaken cultures. 2011 Appl. Env. Microbiol. 77(4), pp. 1263-1267
de Bekker, C., Vinck, A., Ossin, A., Ohm, R.A., de Vries, R.P., & Wösten, H.A.B. Heterogenic expression of genes encoding secreted proteins at the periphery of Aspergillus niger colonies. 2011 Env. Microbiology 13(1), pp. 216-225
de Bekker, C., Wiebenga, A., Aguilar, G., & Wösten, H.A.B. An enzyme cocktail for efficient protoplast formation in Aspergillus niger. 2009 JMM 76(3), pp. 305-306
Levin, A.M., de Vries, R.P., Conesa, A., de Bekker, C., Talon, M., Menke, H.H., van Peij, N.N.M.E., & Wösten, H.A.B. Spatial differentiation in the vegetative mycelium of Aspergillus niger. 2007 Euk. Cell 6(12), pp. 2311-2322
I am a molecular biologist, interested in the complexity of fungi displayed by their very dynamic transcriptome and metabolome. During my PhD I studied this so called heterogeneity in the industrially important fungus Aspergillus niger. Through e.g. single cell whole transcriptome analysis and reporter studies using confocal microscopy I showed that fungi are much more complex than generally assumed. Throughout the fungal colony, but also even between neighboring cells, gene expression can be very heterogeneous. This indicates that the fungal mycelium shouldn't be treated as a mass of identical cells but as a complex structure in which fungal cells can be involved in different processes and display very different behavior.
Recently, I moved my focus to studying fungal heterogeneity in the entomopathogenic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. This remarkable fungus is able to control the behavior of ants upon infection , causing them to bite into vegetation before dying. Most work so far has described the ant’s behavior. I am interested in the process behind this behavior from the fungal genome point of view. The environment experienced by the fungal parasite changes dramatically as it goes from infection to manipulation. Therefore, the transcriptome and metabolome of this mind controlling fungus is expected to be highly heterogeneous. My aim is to test this hypothesis and elucidate the complex genetic mechanisms behind adaptive parasite manipulation of host behavior.