Microbiology Experts

Russell Poulter

Microbiology & Immunology
Otago University


A long-term interest of this laboratory has been in the genetics of imperfect fungi (i.e. fungi without a known sexual cycle). More recently, our focus shifted to the retrotransposons present in fungi and, by extension, to retroelements in general. The five major groups of LTR retrotransposons are known as the Ty3/gypsy, Ty1/copia, DIRS1, BEL, and vertebrate retrovirus groups. The elements within each group can generally be distinguished from elements of other groups by comparisons of the sequences of their shared enzymatic domains. We have isolated a Ty1/copia retrotransposon, TCa2, from the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. TCa2 has a number of interesting features including an in-phase suppressible stop codon between ORF1 and ORF2. We have also analysed a Ty3/Gypsy element from C. albicans, Tca3. Tca3 was first identified as a widespread form that lacks a large part of its coding region; however, comparative analyses between C. albicans and C. dubliniensis allowed us to identify the closely related full-length Tcd3 element. Subsequently, we uncovered the rare full-length Tca3 elements. The potential uses of retroelements in biotechnology and their application to the analysis of fungal pathogenicity are at present being investigated. We have also contributed to the analysis of mobile elements such as DNA transposons (including tyrosine recombinase-encoding elements and Helitrons) and retroelements in other fungi, especially the basidiomycete pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans.

Research Interest

Molecular and classical genetics of yeasts and plants


  • Ciarroni, S., Gallipoli, L., Taratufolo, M. C., Butler, M. I., Poulter, R. T., Pourcel, C., … Mazzaglia, A. (2015). Development of a Multiple Loci Variable number of tandem repeats Analysis (MLVA) to unravel the intra-pathovar structure of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae populations worldwide. PLoS ONE, 10(8), e0135310. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135310

  • Poulter, R. T. M., & Butler, M. I. (2015). Tyrosine recombinase retrotransposons and transposons. Microbiology Spectrum, 3(2), MDNA3-0036-2014. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MDNA3-0036-2014

  • Poulter, R. T. M., & Butler, M. I. (2015). Tyrosine recombinase retrotransposons and transposons. In N. L. Craig, M. Chandler, M. Gellert, A. M. Lambowitz, P. A. Rice & S. B. Sandmeyer (Eds.), Mobile DNA III. (pp. 1271-1291). Washington, DC: ASM Press.

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