G-quadruplexes (G4): Novel regulators of fungal secondary metabolism


Fungi are highly adaptable to their environment and produce a vast number of bioactive molecules when under stress.

These molecules not only provide fungi with a survival advantage but many have antimicrobial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-reducing, and insecticidal properties. Thus, understanding how these metabolites are produced has a significant impact on global health, food security, and the economy. Four-stranded DNA/RNA secondary structures, called G-quadruplexes, have arisen as novel regulators of metabolism in fungi.

The aim of this project is to determine how G4s control fungal secondary metabolism and understand whether we can exploit this regulatory process to enhance the production of clinically, industrially, and agriculturally useful metabolites. This will be achieved via a combination of molecular microbiology, analytical chemistry, bioinformatic and biophysical approaches.

The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities and a be part of a vibrant research community. The student will also benefit from experience in two different laboratories (Bidula and Wilkinson) at the UEA and JIC, and visits to collaborating labs in London. This will provide the student with a unique training experience and put them at the forefront of an emerging field in mycology.

The student will also be supported in the acquisition of transferable skills in written and spoken communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. The combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the student eminently employable in both academia and industry.


1. Warner et al., (2021) Analysis of putative G-quadruplex forming sequences in fungal genomes: novel antifungal targets? Microbial Genomics 7, 5.

2. Bohalova et al., (2022) Conservation and over-representation of G-quadruplex sequences in regulatory regions of mitochondrial DNA across distinct taxonomic sub-groups. Biochimie 194, 28-34.