From the jaws of a crocodile to powerful synchrotron light, La Trobe researchers discover a mechanism that could help fight fungal infections

La Trobe University researchers have used the Australian Synchrotron in a new study that reveals how crocodiles resist fatal fungal infections with a unique pH sensing mechanism despite living in filthy water.

The research team led by senior author Prof Marc Kvansakul solved the atomic structure of small crocodile proteins, known as defensins, using the Microfocus Crystallography (MX2) beamline.

“Using the power of the Australian Synchrotron, we were able generate structural data to define how defensins attack and kill fungal pathogens,” said senior author Professor Mark Hulett, leader of the Hulett Lab at La Trobe University.

The research, that was published in Nature Communications last week, has attracted considerable media interest since it was announced because of the potential application as a more targeted treatment of fungal infections.

Read more on the ANSTO website

Image: Dr Alan Riboldi Tunnicliffe and Dr Rachel Williamson  at the MX beamline