Dr. Rebecca Shapiro

Dr. Rebecca Shapiro
Assistant Professor
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Phone number: 
SSC 3248
SSC 3205

I completed my Bachelor’s degree at McGill University in the Department of Biology, where I worked in labs studying cancer genetics, and Drosophila developmental biology. After that, I moved to Toronto to join the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto as a doctoral candidate. At U of T, I worked with Dr. Leah Cowen, where I developed a strong interest in the biology of fungal pathogens. My PhD research focused on temperature stress and cellular morphogenesis in the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. After completing my doctoral studies, I joined the lab of Dr. Jim Collins at MIT and the Broad Institute as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow. During my postdoc, I learned new techniques focusing on CRISPR-based technologies, functional genomics, and microbial genomic analysis. My new research group at the University of Guelph will focus on studying microbial fungal pathogens and developing and employing CRISPR-based genomic technologies to allow us to better understand the biology and pathogenesis of these fungal species.

  • BSc - McGill University, Biology
  • PhD - University of Toronto, Molecular Genetics
  • Postdoctoral Fellow - Broad Institute/MIT, Biological Engineering

Genomic technologies. To better study the biology and virulence of fungal pathogens, we are developing new genomic technology platforms for diverse fungal species. We are exploiting CRISPR-Cas9 based technologies to revolutionize the way we do high-throughput functional genomic analysis in fungal pathogens. This is enabling us to map genetic interactions, and uncover genetic factors and pathways that mediate important phenotypes associated with pathogenesis, antifungal drug resistance, and other biological processes.

Fungal pathogenesis. We are interested in microbial fungal pathogens, and the mechanisms by which they cause disease. Most of our work focuses on the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans, but we are also expanding our research to include other fungal pathogens of both humans and plants. We use genetics and systems-level analysis to assess cellular factors involved in fungal pathogenesis and virulence pathways - including cellular morphogenesis and biofilm formation.

Antifungal drug resistance. Resistance to antifungal drugs is a serious clinical concern. We study the mechanisms by which fungal pathogens evolve antifungal drug resistance, and identify genetic factors involved in mediating this resistance. Using experimental evolution, molecular genetic techniques, and whole genome sequencing analysis, we are building an understanding of how fungi evolve resistance to diverse classes of antifungal agents.

Complete list of publications available here

  • Halder V, Porter CBM, Chavez A, and Shapiro RS. Design, execution, and analysis of CRISPR-Cas9-based deletions and genetic interaction networks in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Nature Protocols (2019). doi:10.1038/s41596-018-0122-6
  • Geddes-McAlister J and Shapiro RS. New pathogens, new tricks: emerging, drug-resistant fungal pathogens and future prospects for antifungal therapeutics. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2018). doi:0.1111/nyas.13739
  • Shapiro RS, Chavez A, and Collins JJ. CRISPR-based genomic tools for the manipulation of genetically-intractable microorganisms. Nature Reviews Microbiology (2018) 16:333-339
  • Chavez A, Pruitt BW, Tuttle M, Shapiro RS, Cecchi RJ, Winston J, Turczyk BM, Tung M, Collins JJ, and Church GM. Precise Cas9 targeting enables genomic mutation prevention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2018) 115:3669-3673
  • Shapiro RS, Chavez A, Porter CBM, Hamblin M, Kaas CS, DiCarlo JE, Zeng G, Xu X, Revtovich AV, Kirienko NV, Wang Y, Church GM, Collins JJ. (2017) A CRISPR Cas9-based gene drive platform for genetic interaction analysis in Candida albicansNature Microbiology (2018) DOI: 10.1038/s41564-017-0043-0
  • Cohen NR, Ross C, Jain S, Shapiro RS, Gutierrez A, Belenky P, Li H, and Collins JJ. A role for the bacterial epigenome in antibiotic stress survival. Nature Genetics (2016) 48(5): 581-586
  • Shapiro RS. Antimicrobial-induced DNA damage and genomic instability in microbial pathogens. PLOS Pathogens (2015) 11(3):e1004678
  • Ryan O*, Shapiro RS*, Kurat C, Mayhew D, Baryshnikova A, Chin B, Costanzo M, Lin Z-Y, Cox M, Vizeacoumar F, Cheung D, Tsui K, Istel F, Tebbji F, Sellam A, Schwarzmuller T, Kuchler K, Gifford DK, Whiteway M, Giaever G, Nislow C, Costanzo M, Gingras A-C, Mitra RD, Johnston M, Andrews B, Fink GR, Cowen LE, and Boone C. Global gene deletion analysis exploring yeast filamentous growth. Science (2012) 337(6100):1353-1356 *These authors contributed equally to this work
  • Shapiro RSSellam A, Tebbji F, Whiteway M, Nantel A and Cowen LE. Pho85, Pcl1 and Hms1 signaling governs Candida albicans morphogenesis induced by high temperature or Hsp90 compromise. Current Biology (2012) 22(6):461-470       
  • Shapiro RS, Robbins N and Cowen LE. Regulatory circuitry governing fungal development, drug resistance, and disease. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews (2011) 75(2):213-267
  • Shapiro RS, Uppuluri P, Zaas AK, Collins C, Senn H, Perfect JR, Heitman J, and Cowen LE. Hsp90 orchestrates temperature-dependent Candida albicans morphogenesis via Ras1-PKA signaling. Current Biology (2009) 19(8):621-629