Dr Megan Lenardon

Dr Megan Lenardon

Senior Lecturer
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 to address the unmet needs in medical mycology in innovative ways. I am the convenor of the Eukaryotic Microbes Special Interest Group (SIG) and co-convenor of the Gut Microbes SIG 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, British, Canadian and French funding bodies. 

(+612) 9385-1780
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 | 2024
    McCrory C; Lenardon M; Traven A, 2024, 'Bacteria-derived short-chain fatty acids as potential regulators of fungal commensalism and pathogenesis', Trends in Microbiology, pp. S0966-842X(24)00089-1, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2024.04.004
    Journal articles | 2024
    Schaefer S; Melodia D; Corrigan N; Lenardon MD; Boyer C, 2024, 'Effect of Star Topology Versus Linear Polymers on Antifungal Activity and Mammalian Cell Toxicity', Macromolecular Bioscience, 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mabi.202300452
    Journal articles | 2024
    Schaefer S; Melodia D; Pracey C; Corrigan N; Lenardon MD; Boyer C, 2024, 'Mimicking Charged Host-Defense Peptides to Tune the Antifungal Activity and Biocompatibility of Amphiphilic Polymers', Biomacromolecules, 25, pp. 871 - 889, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.3c01038
    Journal articles | 2023
    Gow NAR; Lenardon MD, 2023, 'Architecture of the dynamic fungal cell wall', Nature Reviews Microbiology, 21, pp. 248 - 259, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41579-022-00796-9
    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 Microbiology Ecology, 98, pp. fiac095, 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, 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, 134, pp. jcs258889, 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, 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, 9, pp. e02383 - e02317, 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, 13, pp. e1006403, 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, 12, pp. e1005566, 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, 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, 10, pp. e1004050, 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, 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, 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, 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', , 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 63, pp. 1399 - 1413, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05588.x
  • Preprints | 2023
    Schaefer S; Melodia D; Corrigan N; Lenardon M; Boyer C, 2023, Mimicking charged host-defence peptides to tune antifungal activity and biocompatibility of amphiphilic polymers, , http://dx.doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv-2023-9c9xg
    Preprints | 2023
    Schaefer S; Vij R; Sprague J; Austermeier S; Dinh H; Judzewitsch P; Seemann E; Qualmann B; Cain A; Corrigan N; Gresnigt M; Boyer C; Lenardon M; Brunke S, 2023, A synthetic peptide mimic killsCandida albicansand synergistically prevents infection, , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2023.09.25.559234
    Conference Abstracts | 2022
    Schaefer S; Vij R; Sprague J; Seemann E; Hube B; Lenardon M; Boyer C; Brunke S, 2022, 'Synthetic antifungal peptide mimic kills Candida albicans by targeting protein glycosylation and synergistically prevents infection', in MEDICAL MYCOLOGY, OXFORD UNIV PRESS, Vol. 60, pp. 38 - 38, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mmy/myac072.P003
    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
    Preprints | 2021
    Ricci L; Mackie J; Donachie G; Chapuis A; Mezerová K; Lenardon M; Brown A; Duncan S; Walker A, 2021, Human gut bifidobacteria inhibit the growth of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.21.473717
    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, FL, St Petersburg, Vol. 23, pp. 1343 - 1343, presented at Annual Conference of the Society-for-Glycobiology, FL, St Petersburg, 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.

Opportunistic invasive fungal pathogens cause over 6.5 million life-threatening infections and 3.75 million deaths per year worldwide. The number of deaths per year is greater than those attributed to either tuberculosis, malaria, or breast cancer or prostate cancer. Bloodstream infections caused by Candida species (candidaemia) are one of 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. It is estimated that there are >1.5 million cases of candidaemia and invasive candidiasis per year worldwide, with a treated mortality rate of 35% and untreated mortality rate of >95%. 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 19 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.

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 and fungal 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.

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

Professional Engagement

  • Convenor, Eukaryotic Microbes Special Interest Group of the ASM
  • Co-convenor, Gut 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

My Research Supervision

Current Research Students

  • Sebastian Schaefer - PhD candidate (co-supervisor with Prof. Cyrille Boyle, Chemical Engineering)
  • Bianca Briscas - Honours 2021, PhD candidate
  • Hatu Gmedhin - PhD candidate (co-supervisor with Prof. Cyrille Boyer, Chemical Engineering)
  • Porshya Kallapatha - Honours 2024-25

Past Research Students

  • Isaac Lawrence - Honours 2023
  • Harry Tiernan - Honours 2022
  • Dennie Xie - Research Internship 2022, Honours 2022-23
  • Cherie Chen - Honours 2021
  • Leah Robins - Research Internship 2021
  • Logan Ho - Honours 2020-21
  • Richard Liang - Honours 2020-21
  • Reeva Nadkar - Research Internship 2020, Honours 2021
  • Caitlin Bartie - TSP mentee 2020
  • Lisa Yang - Honours 2018
  • Emily Griffiths - Honours 2018
  • Matthew Prokop - Research Internship 2018, Honours 2018, PhD candidate 2020-2022

My Teaching

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