Duke University Medical Center
Faculty and Research

Heitman Lab Members

Catharine Kappauf
Undergraduate Student

317 CARL Building
Box 3546 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710

Phone: 919.684.2809
Fax: 919.684.5458
Email: catharine.kappauf@duke.edu

Catharine Kappauf

I'm Catharine Kappauf, an undergraduate student in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, class of 2014! I am pre-med and double majoring in Biology and Spanish. I started working in the Heitman Lab in the early fall of 2011. I currently work with Wenjun Li studying Malassezia, a cutaneous, commensal fungus associated with skin diseases/disorders such as dandruff and eczema. We are studying the mating type locus in this fungus in order to better understand factors affecting its varied virulence levels and its inconsistent effect on people whose skin it inhabits. In two closely related fungi, virulence is linked to mating type (Cryptococcus) or a sexual stage (Ustilago). Although both mating type loci and meiotic genes have been found in the two Malassezia species with sequenced genomes, sexual reproduction has never been observed in Malassezia. Thus far, we know that there are two parts of the mating type locus in the Malassezia genome, "a" and "b" loci. We are working to determine whether or not the two loci are linked by determining their distance from each other on the Malassezia genome, and to determine how many alleles are found within each one. My ultimate goal is to find mating types that are sexually compatible so that I may encourage and observe a sexual reproductive cycle in Malassezia.

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