IGSP Faculty

Fred Dietrich, PhD

Fred Dietrich, PhD

Associate Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

Fred Dietrich is Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Work in the Dietrich laboratory addresses fundamental questions regarding the relationship between gene sequence and biological function. These include:

Defining the set of genes found in a simple organism. The starting point for this work is the complete sequence of the genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. When the sequence of this genome became available at the end of 1996 it became clear that the genome of this yeast encodes about 6000 genes. While many groups are studying this particular research strain to learn more about basic fungal biology, Dr. Dietrich and colleagues have taken a comparative approach to understanding the structure and function of fungi genomes. This involves a characterization of the genomes of related organisms, starting with the filamentous fungus Ashbya gossypii to then compare to the set of genes in S. cerevisiae as well as to identify genes found in related fungi that have been lost from the genome of this yeast. Considerably more than 90% of the genes found in S. cerevisiae are found in Ashbya gossypii and likewise well over 90% of the genes found in Ashbya gossypii are found in S. cerevisiae. This suggests that the set of genes found in this family of fungi is somewhat larger than the set of genes found in the standard research yeast, but not by very much.

Defining the extent of genetic variation within a fungal pathogen. Efforts underway at Stanford University to sequence the genome of a laboratory strain of Cryptococcus provides a framework and reference for understanding the genetic variation associated with disease caused by this organism. Work in the Dietrich laboratory is focused on defining the extent of DNA sequence diversity in the population of Cryptococcus isolates associated with human disease. This aims to answer questions such as whether there are genes found in some Cryptococcus isolates but not in others and whether there are regions of the genome or individual genes which are highly diverged between Cryptococcus isolates.

Defining the set of human genes. While the complete DNA sequence of human and mouse will become available soon, this does not mean that we will know the complete set of human or mouse genes. Our current state of knowledge does not allow us to accurately predict human genes directly from DNA sequence. Efforts in the Dietrich laboratory are aim at applying the experimental and bioinformatics tools developed in the fungal systems to better understand the human genome. This involves the use of high throughput DNA sequencing, coupled with bioinformatics expertise, to identify those features of genes, established in lower organisms, to allow a description of the content and organization of the human genome.

Learn more about Dr. Dietrich's research in GenomeLIFE

Recent Publications