Dr Megan Lenardon
Senior Lecturer

Dr Megan Lenardon

Science
School of Biotech & Biomolecular Science

I obtained a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from UNSW in 2000, before going on to complete a PhD in Molecular Genetics in 2005 under the supervision of Prof. Ian Dawes. I then moved to the world-renowned Aberdeen Fungal Group (AFG) at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland where I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow with Profs. Neil Gow and Al Brown. During my postdoctoral years, my research focussed on fungal call wall structure and biosynthesis, with a particular interest in the regulation of chitin synthesis during the growth of Candida albicans, as well as the immune recognition of fungal cell wall components, and C. albicans stress responses. I set up my own group in the AFG in 2012 upon the receipt of a New Investigator award from the Medical Research Council (UK), and in 2017, returned to UNSW as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.

My research activities are focussed on translating my love of basic fungal cell biology into innovative solutions to address the urgent clinical need for novel diagnostics and therapeutic strategies to combat invasive fungal infections. I am the convenor of the Eukaryotic Microbes Special Interest Group of the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM), a member of ASM NSW/ACT branch committee, an editorial board member of The Cell Surface and review grants for Australian and UK funding bodies. 

Phone
(+612) 9385-1780
Location
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences Office: Room 4103, Biosciences South Building (E26)
  • Book Chapters | 2013
    Hall RA; Lenardon MD; Alverez FJ; Nogueira FM; Mukaremera L; Gow NAR, 2013, 'The Candida albicans cell wall: structure and role in morphogenesis and immune recognition', in Mora-Montes HM (ed.), The fungal cell wall, Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 1 - 26, https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=40080
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Ricci L; Mackie J; Donachie GE; Chapuis A; Mezerová K; Lenardon MD; Brown AJP; Duncan SH; Walker AW, 2022, 'Human gut bifidobacteria inhibit the growth of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans.', FEMS Microbiol Ecol, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiac095
    Journal articles | 2021
    Schaefer S; Pham TTP; Brunke S; Hube B; Jung K; Lenardon MD; Boyer C, 2021, 'Rational Design of an Antifungal Polyacrylamide Library with Reduced Host-Cell Toxicity', ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 13, pp. 27430 - 27444, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c05020
    Journal articles | 2021
    da Silva Dantas A; Nogueira F; Lee KK; Walker LA; Edmondson M; Brand AC; Lenardon MD; Gow NAR, 2021, 'Crosstalk between the calcineurin and cell wall integrity pathways prevents chitin overexpression in Candida albicans', Journal of Cell Science, vol. 134, http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.258889
    Journal articles | 2020
    Lenardon MD; Sood P; Dorfmueller HC; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2020, 'Scalar nanostructure of the Candida albicans cell wall; a molecular, cellular and ultrastructural analysis and interpretation', The Cell Surface, vol. 6, pp. 100047, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tcsw.2020.100047
    Journal articles | 2018
    Walker L; Sood P; Lenardon MD; Milne G; Olson J; Jensen G; Wolf J; Casadevall A; Adler-Moore J; Gow NAR, 2018, 'The viscoelastic properties of the fungal cell wall allow traffic of ambisome as intact liposome vesicles', mBio, vol. 9, http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02383-17
    Journal articles | 2017
    Sherrington SL; Sorsby E; Mahtey N; Kumwenda P; Lenardon MD; Brown I; Ballou ER; MacCallum DM; Hall RA, 2017, 'Adaptation of Candida albicans to environmental pH induces cell wall remodelling and enhances innate immune recognition', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006403
    Journal articles | 2016
    Childers DS; Raziunaite I; Mol Avelar G; Mackie J; Budge S; Stead D; Gow NAR; Lenardon MD; Ballou ER; MacCallum DM; Brown AJP, 2016, 'The Rewiring of Ubiquitination Targets in a Pathogenic Yeast Promotes Metabolic Flexibility, Host Colonization and Virulence', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 12, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005566
    Journal articles | 2015
    Preechasuth K; Anderson JC; Peck SC; Brown AJP; Gow NAR; Lenardon MD, 2015, 'Cell wall protection by the Candida albicans class I chitin synthases', Fungal Genetics and Biology, vol. 82, pp. 264 - 276, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fgb.2015.08.001
    Journal articles | 2014
    Wagener J; Malireddi RKS; Lenardon MD; Köberle M; Vautier S; MacCallum DM; Biedermann T; Schaller M; Netea MG; Kanneganti TD; Brown GD; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2014, 'Fungal Chitin Dampens Inflammation through IL-10 Induction Mediated by NOD2 and TLR9 Activation', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004050
    Journal articles | 2013
    Hall RA; Bates S; Lenardon MD; MacCallum DM; Wagener J; Lowman DW; Kruppa MD; Williams DL; Odds FC; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2013, 'The Mnn2 Mannosyltransferase Family Modulates Mannoprotein Fibril Length, Immune Recognition and Virulence of Candida albicans', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 9, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1003276
    Journal articles | 2013
    Walker LA; Lenardon MD; Preechasuth K; Munro CA; Gow NAR, 2013, 'Cell wall stress induces alternative fungal cytokinesis and septation strategies', Journal of Cell Science, vol. 126, pp. 2668 - 2677, http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.118885
    Journal articles | 2012
    Kaloriti D; Tillmann A; Cook E; Jacobsen M; You T; Lenardon M; Ames L; Barahona M; Chandrasekaran K; Coghill G; Goodman D; Gow NAR; Grebogi C; Ho HL; Ingram P; McDonagh A; De Moura APS; Pang W; Puttnam M; Radmaneshfar E; Romano MC; Silk D; Stark J; Stumpf M; Thiel M; Thorne T; Usher J; Yin Z; Haynes K; Brown AJP, 2012, 'Combinatorial stresses kill pathogenic Candida species', Medical Mycology, vol. 50, pp. 699 - 709, http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/13693786.2012.672770
    Journal articles | 2012
    Lenardon MD; Nantel A, 2012, 'Rapid detection of aneuploidy following the generation of mutants in candida albicans', Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 845, pp. 41 - 49, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-61779-539-8_3
    Journal articles | 2012
    You T; Ingram P; Jacobsen MD; Cook E; McDonagh A; Thorne T; Lenardon MD; De Moura AP; Romano MC; Thiel M; Stumpf M; Gow NAR; Haynes K; Grebogi C; Stark J; Brown AJP, 2012, 'A systems biology analysis of long and short-term memories of osmotic stress adaptation in fungi', BMC Research Notes, vol. 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-5-258
    Journal articles | 2011
    Cheng SC; van de Veerdonk FL; Lenardon M; Stoffels M; Plantinga T; Smeekens S; Rizzetto L; Mukaremera L; Preechasuth K; Cavalieri D; Kanneganti TD; van der Meer JWM; Kullberg BJ; Joosten LAB; Gow NAR; Netea MG, 2011, 'The dectin-1/inflammasome pathway is responsible for the induction of protective T-helper 17 responses that discriminate between yeasts and hyphae of Candida albicans', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 90, pp. 357 - 366, http://dx.doi.org/10.1189/jlb.1210702
    Journal articles | 2011
    Mora-Montes HM; Netea MG; Ferwerda G; Lenardon MD; Brown GD; Mistry AR; Kullberg BJ; O'Callaghan CA; Sheth CC; Odds FC; Brown AJP; Munro CA; Gow NAR, 2011, 'Recognition and blocking of innate immunity cells by Candida albicans chitin', Infection and Immunity, vol. 79, pp. 1961 - 1970, http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.01282-10
    Journal articles | 2010
    Lenardon MD; Milne SA; Mora-Montes HM; Kaffarnik FAR; Peck SC; Brown AJP; Munro CA; Gow NAR, 2010, 'Phosphorylation regulates polarisation of chitin synthesis in Candida albicans', Journal of Cell Science, vol. 123, pp. 2199 - 2206, http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jcs.060210
    Journal articles | 2010
    Lenardon MD; Munro CA; Gow NAR, 2010, 'Chitin synthesis and fungal pathogenesis', Current Opinion in Microbiology, vol. 13, pp. 416 - 423, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mib.2010.05.002
    Journal articles | 2009
    Lenardon MD; Lesiak I; Munro CA; Gow NAR, 2009, 'Dissection of the Candida albicans class i chitin synthase promoters', Molecular Genetics and Genomics, vol. 281, pp. 459 - 471, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00438-009-0423-0
    Journal articles | 2008
    Walker LA; Munro CA; De Bruijn I; Lenardon MD; McKinnon A; Gow NAR, 2008, 'Stimulation of chitin synthesis rescues Candida albicans from echinocandins', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000040
    Journal articles | 2007
    Lenardon MD; Whitton RK; Munro CA; Marshall D; Gow NAR, 2007, 'Individual chitin synthase enzymes synthesize microfibrils of differing structure at specific locations in the Candida albicans cell wall', Molecular Microbiology, vol. 66, pp. 1164 - 1173, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05990.x
    Journal articles | 2007
    Munro CA; Selvaggini S; De Bruijn I; Walker L; Lenardon MD; Gerssen B; Milne S; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2007, 'The PKC, HOG and Ca2+ signalling pathways co-ordinately regulate chitin synthesis in Candida albicans', Molecular Microbiology, vol. 63, pp. 1399 - 1413, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05588.x
  • Conference Abstracts | 2021
    Lenardon M, 2021, 'The colon microcosm: a novel in vitro model to study Candida albicans colonisation of the human colon', in Access Microbiology, Microbiology Society, Vol. 3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/acmi.cc2021.po0011
    Conference Abstracts | 2020
    Ricci L; Mackie J; Lenardon MD; Jukes C; Hegazy AN; Brown AJP; Duncan SH; Walker AW, 2020, 'Bifidobacterium adolescentis shows potential to strengthen host defence against gastrointestinal infection via inhibition of the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans and stimulation of human-isolated macrophages killing capacity in vitro', in Access Microbiology, Microbiology Society, Vol. 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/acmi.ac2020.po0743
    Conference Abstracts | 2018
    Spyrou M; Brown AJP; Gow NAR; Lenardon MD, 2018, 'Orchestration of chitin synthesis at the septation site of Candida albicans', in MEDICAL MYCOLOGY, OXFORD UNIV PRESS, Vol. 56, pp. S157 - S157, https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000434852700889&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
    Conference Abstracts | 2013
    Wagener J; Malireddi RKS; Lenardon MD; Koberle M; Vautier S; MacCallum DM; Alvarez FJ; Biedermann T; Schaller M; Netea MG; Kanneganti TD; Brown GD; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2013, 'Chitin recognition in fungal infections and its impact on the immune response', in GLYCOBIOLOGY, OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, St Petersburg, FL, Vol. 23, pp. 1343 - 1343, presented at Annual Conference of the Society-for-Glycobiology, St Petersburg, FL, 17 November 2013 - 20 November 2013, https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000326972400050&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
    Conference Abstracts | 2013
    Wagener J; Malireddi RKS; Lenardon MD; Koeberle M; Vautier S; MacCallum DM; Biedermann T; Schaller M; Netea MG; Kanneganti T-D; Brown GD; Brown AJP; Gow NAR, 2013, 'Chitin recognition in fungal infections and its impact on the immune response', in MYCOSES, WILEY-BLACKWELL, Vol. 56, pp. 7 - 7, https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000322918300023&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
    Conference Abstracts | 2012
    Lenardon MD; Gow NAR, 2012, 'Building a scalar model of the Candida albicans cell wall', in MYCOSES, WILEY-BLACKWELL, Vol. 55, pp. 187 - 187, https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000305069800590&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
    Conference Abstracts | 2012
    Preechasuth K; Lenardon MD; Gow NA, 2012, 'Phosphorylation of Chs2 is required for its localization in Candida albicans', in MYCOSES, WILEY-BLACKWELL, Vol. 55, pp. 181 - 181, https://www.webofscience.com/api/gateway?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000305069800567&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a29b250adbe88d1
    Theses / Dissertations | 2006
    Lenardon MD, 2006, The role of auxiliary transcription factors in the regulation of gene expression during sporulation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
    Preprints |
    Ricci L; Mackie J; Donachie GE; Chapuis A; Mezerová K; Lenardon MD; Brown AJP; Duncan SH; Walker AW, Human gut bifidobacteria inhibit the growth of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.21.473717

Opportunistic invasive fungal pathogens cause over two million life-threatening infections per year worldwide, with mortality ranging from 20–95%. The number of deaths per year is greater than those attributed to either malaria, breast cancer or prostate cancer. Bloodstream infections caused by Candida species (candidaemia) are the most frequent life-threatening invasive fungal infections, with the majority caused by one species, Candida albicans.

C. albicans colonises the gut of most healthy individuals but does not usually cause serious disease because the physical barriers between our gut and the bloodstream, combined with our immune defences and the suppressive powers of the indigenous gut microbiota, prevent these infections. However, this opportunistic pathogen can cause serious, life-threatening disseminated disease when these barriers and defences are compromised (e.g. seriously ill patients in the ICU, during cancer chemotherapy or immunotherapy, organ/stem cell transplantation, or when the gut microbiota is disturbed), which renders us vulnerable to infections from the C. albicans that colonises our gut. Despite the availability of antifungal drugs, over 40% of these systemic infections are fatal in certain patient groups. There is an urgent clinical need for the development of diagnostics and new therapies for invasive candidiasis which research in my group aims to address in innovative ways.

Cell wall structure and biosynthesis. I have been studying the cell and molecular biology of C. albicans for over 18 years and have developed specific expertise in the biosynthesis of the C. albicans cell wall and its structure. My postdoctoral research was focussed on the regulation of the synthesis of chitin, an essential structural polysaccharide found in the cell wall almost all pathogenic fungi, but is not found in humans, and so represents an attractive target for antifungal drugs. Utilising state-of-the-art imaging techniques, I have investigated the precise ultrastructure of the C. albicans cell wall. These methods include high pressure freezing/freeze substitution, transmission electron microscopy and electron tomography. Determining precisely how the cell wall components are arranged, and how their arrangement changes as cells encounter different conditions, has informed the understanding of the innate and adaptive immune responses to fungi.

Cell division and septation in fungi. Drawing largely on my expertise in fungal cell wall biology, I have investigated the fundamental process of septation with a view to undermining cell division as an attractive way to conquer disease by pharmacological intervention. Ongoing projects are aimed at understanding how chitin is synthesised at septation sites and how this process is regulated.

Antibody-based therapies and diagnostics for fungal infections. Antibodies that recognise components of the fungal cell surface may provide bio-tools for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic agents with utility against fungal infections. They may also provide a much-needed alternative to the current inadequate range of chemical-based antifungal drugs. Ongoing projects are aimed at demonstrating the therapeutic and diagnostic utility of monoclonal antibodies which recognise fungal cell wall polysaccharides.

Development of antifungal polymers. In collaboration with Prof. Cyrille Boyer in the School of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at UNSW, a library of polymers which resemble antimicrobial peptides with antifungal activity has been synthesised, tested and optimised. With collaborators at the Hans Knoell Institute in Jena, Germany, the mode of action of these new antifungal polyacrylamides is being investigated.

Gut fungi. Utilising a novel in vitro system which mimics conditions in the human colon, projects in this area are aimed at advancing our understanding of the mechanisms by which C. albicans adapts to and evolves in a key host niche, how this adaptation can be compromised by natural bacterial components of certain healthy GI microbiotas, and how this can be exploited to prevent C. albicans infections arising from the GI tract. Projects are also aimed at generating a better understanding of composition and functional role of the entire fungal component of the GI microbiota..

Professional Engagement

Convenor, Eukaryotic Microbes Special Interest Group of the ASM
Committee Member - ASM NSW/ACT branch
Editorial Board Member - The Cell Surface

Member Local Organising Committee and Scientific Program Committee - ASM2022 Annual National Meeting
Former Academic Editor - PLoS One (2014-2022)

Professional Membership

Australian Society for Microbiology
Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Australasian Yeast Group – Special Interest Group of the ASBMB
Australasian Mycological Society
Microbiology Society
International Society for Human and Animal Mycology
British Society for Medical Mycology
British Mycological Society

Industry Engagement

Collaborative Research - Genetic Signatures Ltd.
Past Chair, BABS Enterprise Committee (2018-2022)

Science Outreach Activities

UNSW Open Day
BABSOC Activity - Candida art
National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) - Alumni events..

Teaching

BABS3061 Medical Biotechnology - course coordinator
BABS3021/MICR3261 Microbial Genetics - lecturer
MICR2011 Microbiology 1 - lecturer
BABS2011 Current Trends in Biotechnology - lecturer
BABS1202 Applied Biomolecular Sciences - lecturer
MFAC1524 Health Maintenance B - lecturer

Current Research Students

Sebastian Schaefer - PhD candidate (co-supervisor with Prof. Cyrille Boyle, Chemical Engineering.)
Bianca Briscas - Honours 2021, PhD candidate
Harry Tiernan - Honours 2022
Dennie Xie - Honours 2022-23

Past Research Students

Dennie Xie - Research Internship 2022
Reeva Nadkar, Honours 2021
Cherie Chen - Honours 2021
Leah Robins - Research Internship 2021
Logan Ho - Honours 2020-21
Richard Liang - Honours 2020-21
Reeva Nadkar - Research Internship 2020
Caitlin Bartie - TSP mentee 2020
Lisa Yang - Honours 2018
Emily Griffiths - Honours 2018
Matthew Prokop - Research Internship 2018, Honours 2018, PhD candidate 2020-2022