Epigenetics of repetitive DNA elements in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the fungal pathogen Candida albicans


Dr Alessia Buscaino graduated in Molecular Biology at the University of Palermo (Italy) in 2000. In 2001, she was awarded an EMBL predoctoral fellowship and conducted her PhD research in the laboratory of Dr. Asifa Akhtar at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL-Germany).


During her PhD, her interest in epigenetics and chromatin modifications flourished while investigating mechanisms of Dosage Compensation in Drosophila melanogaster.


Alessia has a long term interest in epigenetics and chromatin regulation.


She is particularly interested in studying the chromatin status associated with DNA repeats given that repeated DNA poses major challenges to genome stability. In many organisms, heterochromatin assembles over large blocks of repetitive DNA elements suppressing recombination and promoting genome stability. However, surprisingly, it is still unknown how repetitive DNA elements are targeted for heterochromatin formation. To investigate these questions Alessia was awarded an EMBO long-term post-doctoral fellowship to conduct research in the laboratory of Professor Robin Allshire (WTCCB-Edinburgh).During her post-doc she investigated how heterochromatin assembles on large blocks of DNA repeats in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In 2013, she obtained a EMBO short-term Fellowship to investigate the chromatin status of Candida albicans repetitive DNA elements in Judith Berman laboratory (TAU University- Tel-Aviv, Israel).


Alessia joined the University of Kent and the Kent Fungal Group in July 2013 as a lecturer and group leader. Her group investigates the epigenetic mechanisms regulating the chromatin structure of large blocks of repeats using S. pombe and C. albicans as model systems.


Interested in joining us? Postdoc, PhD student and Master student applications always considered. Enquiries to: A.Buscaino@kent.ac.uk


Dr. Alessia Buscaino

Jordan Price - Post Doc

Jordan graduated from Lancaster University in 2007 with a BSc in Biochemistry. He stayed on at Lancaster to complete an MSc in Dr Howard Lindsay’s lab, investigating the interactions and chromatin association of UHRF1 and DNMT1. During this time, his interest in epigenetics grew and he subsequently completed a PhD investigating the roles of histone variants during early Xenopus laevis development, in Prof Matt Guille’s lab at the University of Portsmouth. In 2012, he joined Prof Karen Lillycrop and Prof Graham Burdge’s group at the University of Southampton, where he investigated the role of nutritional supplements in regulating DNA methylation in human cell lines. As of 2015, Jordan is part of the Buscaino lab, investigating the role of histone modifications in regulating DNA repeats and genome stability in Candida albicans.

Misty Peterson - PhD student

Misty received her second bachelors degree from the University of California Santa Cruz where she studied Biology with an emphasis on Neuroscience. Her work continued at U.C.S.C. as a research technician and a teaching assistant in the Molecular Cellular & Development Biology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology departments over the next three and a half years.  The main focus of her laboratory research was the link between DNA repair and heterochromatin.


During this time she also worked toward a Masters of Science Degree in Biology at San Jose State University. This included courses on Next Generation Sequencing as well as involvement in a project on the de novo sequencing of an invasive marine organism. She was vice president of the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Association and served as an assistant to the graduate advisor. In 2014 she was the recipient of the John and Betty Davison Research Fellowship which supported her masters thesis research project on chromosome instability.


Her study at the University of Kent is under joint supervision of Dr. Alessia Buscaino and Dr. David Brown through a University of Kent 50th Anniversary Scholarship. The project takes a multi-disciplinary approach, integrating structure and functional studies of proteins that play a role in the morphological changes involved in the virulence of Candida albicans. Using a combination of in vivo and in situ approaches she will extend the existing knowledge base about this organism with the aim of informing medical treatment for related conditions in humans.

Samuel Vega Estevez - PhD Student



2009-2013, University of Leon (Spain) BSc Biotechnology.

2013-2015, University of Oviedo (Spain) MSc Biotechnology of Environment and Health

2017-Present, University of Kent, PhD Genetics.


Research Project.


Biofuels have become important because of the depletion of fossil fuel energy sources. Lignocellulic biomass is generated in large amounts as waste following agricultural, and forestry processing operations. Lignocellulose is a heteropolymer composed mainly of pentose and hexose sugars. Due to its high sugar content lignocellulose is an ideal substrate for bioethanol production. However, whereas the traditional yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can efficiently ferment hexose sugars, it cannot ferment pentose sugars, such as xylose. Pichia stipitis is a yeast with the highest capacity for xylose fermentation of any known microorganism. Different P. stipitis isolates vary in their ability to ferment ethanol but the genetic basis underlying this improved ethanol production is largely unknown. Therefore, very little is known of P. stipitis genomic diversity and its contribution to ethanol production.


The main aim of the project is investigating whether and how genomic plasticity contributes to P. stipitis biology, focusing on ethanol production from pentose sugars. 

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