The human gut is populated with a vast community of microbes, the microbiota. Fungi comprise 0.1% of the total gut microbiota. Some of these fungi exist as benign members, however others such can undergo a pathogenic switch causing disease. The fungal cell wall is the first target for immune system recognition. Recent studies have suggested that is decorated with different cell wall epitopes within different physiological niches, due to the impact of carbon source and oxygen availability on cell wall remodelling. Here we hypothesize that resident gut bacteria also play a major role in fungal cell wall remodelling and immune recognition. Data from our lab has shown that a common bacterium from the gut, Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt), produces an extensive repertoire of degradative enzymes to breakdown the cell wall. Recently, we have identified novel enzymes in Bt from the glycoside hydrolase family 130 (GH130), which specifically target β1,2-linked mannan, a unique feature of Candida mannan. We have deleted multiple fungal mannan specific loci in Bt and examined the ability of deletion strains to utilise Candida mannan as a carbon source. These data suggest that Bt contains multiple pathways to degrade the Candida cell wall. Now we are systematically dissecting the impact of mannan degradation on the physiology of the fungus. This will provide insights into how two prominent members of the gut microbiota interact with each other, how the Candida cell wall is modified in the anaerobic environment of the gut, and the importance of this in promoting immune homeostasis.

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