School of Life Sciences

Armstrong Lab

Multicellular development of fission yeast

The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe has been used for many years as a 'model' eukaryote, in Sussex and elsewhere. As a simple single-celled organism it has been vital in identifying much basic molecular machinery of the cell, particularly in control of its cell cycle, and in finding that this machinery is remarkably similar in higher eukaryotes, such as humans. We discovered that the textbook view of S. pombe as a single-celled organism is somewhat misleading: like many fungi, it can, under the appropriate conditions, change its pattern of growth, and form complex multicellular structures in which the indivdual cells are elongated, form branches and invade deep into the growth medium. This is of interest for two broad reasons. First, since so much is already known at the molecular level about how this organism grows as a single cell, there is an excellent opportunity to understand a process of differentiation from single cells to complex structures at an almost unprecedented level. Secondly, many types of fungi whihc are pathogens to humans, animals or plants can undergo a growth switch of this sort, and this switch can be a necessary part of the process of infection. Most of these fungi are much more difficult to study than S. pombe. Therefore the study of the this process may ultimately lead to the development of entirely new sorts of antifungal agents, an area currently of great unmet need.


Dr John Armstrong

Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry
School of Life Sciences
University of Sussex
John Maynard Smith Building
Brighton, BN1 9QG

T +44 1273 678576.

Dr John Armstrong's profile page