See Valley Fever Frequently Asked Questions page for more about this fungal infection.
How do genomes of Coccidioides isolates within a given population differ and how do these differences result in virulence?
Why do some Coccidioides strains from soil infect humans while others do not?
Why do some people clear Coccidioides infections while others die from infections of the same isolate?
How can we strategically identify drug targets for novel Valley Fever vaccines and therapeutics?
Valley Fever is caused by the fungal pathogen Coccidioides, which infects, colonizes, and kills otherwise healthy humans (i.e., those who are not immunocompromised) when they inhale fungal spores from soils (Figure 1A). Valley Fever is common in Southern California, Arizona, and other desert regions (Figure 1B). Although research is ongoing there are currently no vaccines. For the deadliest infections, Valley Fever treatment with currently available antifungal drugs is minimally effective.
This project involves using whole fungal genome sequences to assess how much molecular diversity resides within populations of fungi that infect and can kill humans. A second goal is to identify genes in the genome that enable human fungal pathogens to colonize and kill their hosts. Together this information will help guide drug development efforts for Valley Fever.
Figure 1. Coccidioides infection biology, distribution and population diversity; A. Coccidioides life cycle and infection biology, B. Coccidioides population distribution, including Arizona sub populations proposed for study C. Population structure of Arizona isolates from microsatellite data D. UPGMA neighbor-joining tree constructed from Arizona population microsatellite (from Teixeira et al. 2015).