Matt Anderson

Credentials: Ph.D

Position title: Associate Professor


Website: Matt Anderson's website

Phone: 408-394-0489

4434 Genetics-Biotech Building Madison, WI 53706


PhD Stanford University

Research Summary

  • How function evolves when new genes emerge
  • How genetic variation among strains of the most clinically relevant human fungal pathogen Candida albicans produces differences in virulence v. commensalism
  • How heterogeneity in cell populations contribute to fitness
  • How variation in the human microbiome contributes to autoimmunity
  • What are the microbial eukaryotes of the human microbiome

Research Detail

Commensal microbes live with us as humans from the day we are born. Among fungi, the commensal Candida albicans colonizes the skin, oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and genitourinary tract. Overgrowth of those niches leads to debilitating mucosal disease and systemic infections. Our work seeks to understand how genetic variation in C. albicans leads to different outcomes of commensalism and pathogenesis as a member of the microbiome.

Genetic variation in C. albicans is widespread with significant gains and losses in genes and high levels of polymorphism. We are seeking to understand the impact of this variation on virulence-related phenotypes as well as how function gets imparted when new genes arise. These questions serve to answer both basic and more applied aspects of microbiology and genetics. To interrogate C. albicans we rely on existing strain collections and clinical collaborations to perform a mix of experimental and computational approaches to uncover new biology.

Our microbiome work stems from our prior efforts with C. albicans but is oriented to make rapidly address clear needs by our partner communities. In particular, we are interested in understanding the microbial links to rheumatoid arthritis. To include all microbes in this work, we have developed a methodology for the unbiased metagenomic analysis of microbial eukaryotes. The future work in this area is determined in collaboration with our community partners to better address needs in communities that are not well represented in academic research.