Giuseppe Ianiri, PhD

Heitman – lab members

Postdoctoral Associate
312 CARL Building
Box 3546, DUMC
Durham, NC 27710
Phone: 919-684-9702
Fax: 919-684-2790

Research Interest:

I recently joined Heitman’s lab to perform research on the human pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus neoformans and Malassezia spp. In Cryptococcus neoformans my role will be to contribute at further deciphering the role of specific proteins within the MAT locus. This region has been extensively studied in C. neoformans, for which it is known to be involved in sexual reproduction and virulence; it is characterized by an unusually large structure, spanning over 100 Kb and including more 20 genes, the function of most of which has been well defined by functional genetics studies. However, for some of these genes nothing it is known due to the failure in generating specific targeted mutants. My role will be to study the function of five predicted essential genes (RPL22, RPO41, MYO2, PRT1, RPL39) within the MAT locus of the alpha and a mating type in serotype A through 1) the generation of heterozygous mutants in a diploid strain, and Mendelian segregation analysis of the progeny obtained to confirm their essential function; 2) generation of DAmP alleles to compromise their expression. As regards Malassezia, until last year very limited genetic information were available for this emerging group of human pathogens. Our team contributed to the release of the genome sequence of all recognized species of Malassezia (PLoS Genet 11(11): e1005614), and developed for the first time a reliable transformation system that allowed the generation mutants for specific target genes (Ianiri and Idnurm, unpublished). These studies have made a huge impact for molecular studies aiming at the understanding the unique features of this peculiar group of fungi. Initially our activities will focus on: 1) understanding the function of the FBKP12 gene in M. furfur and M. sympodialis through gene target replacement and/or through the selection of mutants that are spontaneous resistant to the drugs FK506 and Rapamycin; 2) study the organization of the MAT locus to discovery the sexual cycle in Malassezia species.

Personal Interests:

I like biking, going to the gym, and playing soccer. I really enjoy travelling around the world to discover new places and meet new people from different cultures.


Ianiri G., Wright A. I., Castoria R., Idnurm A., 2011. Development of resources for the analysis of gene function in Pucciniomycotina red yeasts. Fungal Genetics and Biology  Jul;48(7):685-95. doi: 10.1016/j.fgb.2011.03.003

De Curtis F., de Felice D.V., Ianiri G., De Cicco V., Castoria R. 2012. Environmental factors affect the activity of biocontrol agents against ochratoxigenic Aspergillus carbonarius on wine grape. International Journal of Food Microbiology 159(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.07.023.

Abbott E.P., Ianiri G., Castoria R., Idnurm A. 2013. Overcoming recalcitrant transformation and gene manipulation in Pucciniomycotina Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 97(1):283-95. doi: 10.1007/s00253-012-4561-7.

Ianiri G., Idnurm A., Wright S. A. I., Durán-Patrón R., Mannina L., Ferracane R., Ritieni A., Castoria R. 2013. Searching for genes responsible for patulin degradation in a biocontrol yeast provides insight into the basis for resistance to this mycotoxin. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 79(9):3101-15. doi: 10.1128/​AEM.03851-12. Selected for the Spotlight of March 2013.

Wright S.A.I., de Felice D.V., Ianiri G., Pinedo-Rivilla C., De Curtis F., Castoria R. 2013. Two rapid assays for screening of patulin biodegradation. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, doi: 10.1007/s13762-013-0325-Volume 11(5), pp 1387-1398.

Janbon G., Ormerod K. L., Paulet D. Byrnes III E. J., Chatterjee G., Yadav V., Hon CC., Billmyre R. B., Brunel F., Bahn YS., Chen W., Chen Y.,  Chow E. WL.,  Coppée JY., Floyd-Averette A.,  Gaillardin C.,  Gerik K. J.,  Goebels C., Goldberg J., Gonzalez-Hilarion S., Gujja S., Hamlin J. L.,  Hsueh YP., Ianiri G.,  Jones S., Kodira C. D., Lam W.,  Marra M.,  Mesner L. D.,  Mieczkowski P. A., Moyrand F., Nielsen K.,  Proux C., Rossignol T.,  Schein J. E., Sun S., Wood I. A., Zeng Q., Neuvéglise C., Newlon C. S., Perfect J. R., Lodge J. K.,  Idnurm A., Stajich J. E., Kronstad J. W., Sanyal K., Heitman J., Fraser J. A., Cuomo C. A., Dietrich F. S., 2013. Analysis of the genome and transcriptome of Cryptococcus neoformans grubii reveals complex RNA expression and microevolution leading to virulence attenuation. PLoS Genet 10(4): e1004261. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004261.

Ianiri G., Abhyankar R., Kihara A., Idnurm A. 2014. Phs1 and the synthesis of very long chain fatty acids are required for ballistospore formation. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105147. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105147.

Ianiri G, Idnurm A. 2015. Essential gene discovery in the basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans for antifungal drug target prioritization. mBio 6(2):e02334-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.02334-14.

Ianiri G., Idnurm A., Castoria R. 2016. Transcriptomic responses of the basidiomycete yeast Sporobolomyces sp. to the mycotoxin patulin. BMC Genomics, in press.

Polaino S., Ianiri G., Idnurm A. 2016. An ancient gene cluster for the biosynthesis of carotenoids and apocarotenoids in the fungi. Accepted with minor revision for publication in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.