Skip to main content

Xiangdong Gao

Visiting Professor of Genetics at Duke Kunshan University
DKU Faculty

Research Interests

Yarrowia lipolytica is an oleaginous yeast that is distantly related to the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the human pathogen Candida albicans. It has wide industrial applications in the production of citrate, mannitol, protease, and biofuels. Y. lipolytica is also a dimorphic yeast that forms filaments when induced by glucose, alkaline pH, citrate, or low oxygen. This trait is critical for the pathogenesis of some pathogenic fungal species. Our studies done previously revealed that Y. lipolytica has different regulatory mechanisms from those of S. cerevisiae and C. albicans in the regulation of dimorphic transition. Moreover, Y. lipolytica forms filaments in response to glucose and citrate while S. cerevisiae and C. albicans do not. Under industrial fermentation, Y. lipolytica strains often form filaments. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms that govern dimorphic transition in Y. lipolytica can help manipulate the morphology of cells during fermentation and improve the product yield. My long-term goal is to elucidate the distinct regulatory mechanisms that govern the yeast-to-filament transition in Y. lipolytica. My current research plans are to investigate the roles of several transcription factors in the regulation of dimorphic transition and to isolate novel regulators that respond to the stimulation by lactate and other factors.