Margaret Katz

Professor - School of Science & Technology

Margaret Katz

Phone: +61 2 6773 3016



Additional:Convenor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Margaret Katz received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Santa Barbara for research in microbial genetics. She then joined the fungal genetics research group of Professor Michael Hynes at the University of Melbourne. She continued her post-doctoral research career at Monash University where she worked with Professor Julian Rood on the identification of genes involved in virulence in the bacterium that causes footrot in sheep. Professor Katz was employed as a Lecturer in Molecular Genetics at the University of New England in 1991. Her research has focused on gene regulation in filamentous fungi, diagnosis of microbial diseases using DNA technology, and bacterial and fungal genes involved in virulence.


BSc (Jerusalem), PhD (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara)

Teaching Areas

  • BIOL110 Biology I, section on genetics
  • FSC102 Fundamentals in Forensic Science, sections on serology, DNA fingerprinting and fingerprints
  • GENE210 Introductory Genetics, sections on inheritance and molecular genetics)
  • GENE322 Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics, sections on molecular evolution and molecular markers
  • GENE340 Molecular Genetics and Developmental Biology
  • BCHM330 Molecular Biology (DNA Technology), sections on gene knockouts, genome structure and molecular markers

Research Interests

Molecular Genetics and Functional Genomics of Filamentous Fungi

We are investigating the role of genes involved in the response to starvation, using as a model extracellular protease production in the filamentous fungus, Aspergillus nidulans. We have identified two atypical, non-catalytic hexokinases (HxkC and HxkD), that are involved in the regulation of extracellular protease production in A. nidulans (Bernardo et al., 2007). In addition, a third protein (XprG) that, like HxkC and HxkD, is involved in the response to starvation has been identified (Katz et al., 2006). XprG belongs to a newly defined class of DNA-binding proteins which includes a transcriptional activator required for progression through meiosis in yeast and a human protein shown to be highly expressed in metastatic tumour cells.  We have evidence that XprG plays a role in the response to starvation and programmed cell death in Aspergillus nidulans.

These studies are conducted in the easily manipulated fungus, Aspergillus nidulans, but the results are of major significance to research on pathogenic fungi. The genes that we have identified are involved in the regulation of extracellular proteases and melanin which are thought to be important virulence determinants in fungal pathogens of plants, insects and mammals. Other filamentous fungi contain homologs of the A. nidulans hxkC, hxkD and xprG genes and they could be useful targets for antifungal agents.

The techniques that we are using for this project include construction of gene knockouts, purification of tagged proteins, use of gene fusions to study gene regulation, real-time PCR and microarray hybridisation analyses.

Professor Katz is also involved in a project aimed at the identification of genes that control pathogenicity in Thielaviopsis basicola the fungal pathogen that causes black root rot in cotton and other plants. This project is carried out in collaboration with Dr Lily Pereg-Gerk and is described on her web page.


Selected publications

Katz M.E., Evans C.J., Heagney E.E., vanKuyk P.A., Kelly J.M. and Cheetham B.F., Mutations in genes encoding sorting nexins alter production of intracellular and extracellular proteases in Aspergillus nidulans, Genetics, in press.

Katz M.E. and Cheetham B.F., Isolation of nucleic acids from filamentous fungi, In: Handbook of Nucleic Acid Purification, Liu D., Ed., Taylor and Francis CRC Press, Chapter 10, 20 pages, in press.

Katz M. E., S. M. Bernardo and B. F. Cheetham, The interaction of induction, repression and starvation in the regulation of extracellular proteases in Aspergillus nidulans: evidence for a role for CreA in the response to carbon starvation, Current Genetics, 54: 47-55, 2008.

Cheetham B.F., Parker D., Bloomfield G.A., Shaw B.E., Sutherland M., Hyman J.A., Druitt J., Kennan R.M., Rood J.I. and Katz M.E., Isolation of the bacteriophage DinoHI from Dichelobacter nodosus and its interactions with other integrated genetic elements, OpenMicrobiol. J., 2:1-9, 2008.

Bernardo S.M.H., Gray K.A., Todd R.B., Cheetham B.F. and Katz M.E., Characterization of regulatory non-catalytic hexokinases in Aspergillus nidulans, Molec. Genet. Genomics, 277: 519-532, 2007.

Katz M.E., Gray K.-A and Cheetham B.F., The Aspergillus nidulans xprG (phoG) gene encodes a putative transcriptional activator involved in the response to nutrient limitation, Fungal Genet. Biol., 43: 190-199, 2006.

Cheetham B.F., Tanjung L.R., Sutherland M., Druitt J., Green G., McFarlane J., Bailey G.D., Seaman J.T, and Katz M.E., Improved diagnosis of virulent ovine footrot using the intA gene, Vet. Microbiol.,116:166-174, 2006.

Katz M.E., Dougall A.M., Weeks K. and Cheetham B.F., Multiple genetically distinct groups revealed among clinical isolates identified as atypical Aspergillus fumigatus, J. Clin. Microbiol., 43: 551-555, 2005.

Moodie E.G., Le Jambre L.F. and Katz M.E., Thelohania montirivulorum sp. nov. (Microspora: Thelohaniidae), a parasite of the Australian freshwater crayfish, Cherax destructor (Decapoda: Parastacidae): fine ultrastructure, molecular characteristics and phylogenetic relationships, Parasitol. Res., 91: 215-228, 2003.

Moodie E.G., Le Jambre L.F. and Katz M.E., Ultrastructural characteristics and small subunit ribosomal DNA sequence of Vairimorpha cheracis sp. nov., (Microspora: Burenellidae), a parasite of the Australian yabby, Cherax destructor (Decapoda: Parastacidae), Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 84: 198-213, 2003.