Understanding and manipulation of germination in food-spoilage fungi to improve food security

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


Worldwide 1 in 8 people are malnourished whilst it is predicted that a third of all food produced annually is wasted. Reducing this waste is crucial in order to improve food security. Food spoilage is a significant contributer toward food waste, with food spoilage due to fungal contamination occurring at pre harvest, storage, processing and packaging stages of food production. Germination of fungal spores in food products is responsible for spoilage and will be the main process this project focuses on.
This project will aim to characterise the morphological changes that occur in fungal spores of the Zygomycete class as they germinate. Specifically studying how a variety of germination ques, nutrient sources and other environmental factors effect germination should allow a better understanding of the processes that are triggered throughout germinantion. Gene expression in germinating spores will also be studied to determine genes essential for this process. Alongside this, compounds extracted from plants, lichen and fungi will be tested for activity against germination. The pathways affected by inhibitory compounds will be studied and used to form a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling germination. The roles of identified genes will be confirmed by the production of mutant strains. Once intracellular pathways essential to germination are known, possible mechanisms that can be targeted in order to decrease food spoilage by Zygomycete can be proposed.
This will be a multidisciplinary project using applied microbiology, developmental biology, genomics and modelling to i) characterise the regulatory network governing spore germination; ii) identify novel fungicidal and fungistatic compounds iii) understand the mechanisms of action of established and novel compounds inhibiting fungal spore germination.


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Sephton-Clark PCS (2018) Spore Germination of Pathogenic Filamentous Fungi. in Advances in applied microbiology

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1644268 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 05/10/2015 30/09/2019 Poppy Sephton-Clark
Description Microbiology Society Research Visit Grants (RVG17/1)
Amount £2,430 (GBP)
Organisation Microbiology Society 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 10/2017