Welcome to the

FUNgalSnelders lab

At Wageningen University & Research
we study fungi and link genetic concepts
to human fungal disease

Aspergillus fumigatus is a filamentous fungus that has a lot of fundamental and applied scientific discovery to offer. We use genetic concepts to understand the selection of azole resistance in this human opportunistic pathogen.

Eveline Snelders
Associate Professor/Lecturer (UHD)

Eveline holds a PhD in Medical Microbiology from the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen (2012) where she completed the Medical Molecular Microbiology training fellowship (2014). After a Postdoc in Paris at the Institute Pasteur (2015) she joined the chair group of genetics at Wageningen University & Research first as a postdoc on a NWO VENI grant (2016) and later she established her own research group as an assistant professor (2020) and currently as associate professor (2024). 

Francisca Reyes Marquez 
Research assistant

Francisca holds a PhD in in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Chile, Chile (2008). After being a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (2008-2013), she moved back to Chile as an independent investigator at the University of Andres Bello. In 2016 she first joined the group of Horticulture and Product Physiology at WUR and since 2020, she joined the Laboratory of Genetics. Although her background is mostly working in plant cell biology, she has gained considerable experience in fungi too, specifically transformations and CRISPRcas9.

Hylke Kortenbosch
PhD candidate

Hylke received his MSc degree in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Groningen (2019) where he focused on the ecology and evolution of microbiomes and their hosts. In 2020 he joined the Laboratory of Genetics to start his PhD on the ecology of triazole resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus.

Bo Briggeman
PhD candidate

Bo obtained her MSc degrees in Plant Sciences and Medical Biotechnology at WUR (2023). During her internship at the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute (NL), she decided to pursue a career in Mycology. In May 2023, she joined the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and the Lab. of Genetics (WUR) and started her PhD. Her project focusses on establishing the relationship between azole resistant A. fumigatus in the environment and patients. Bo’s research is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W). 

Spyros Kanellopoulos
PhD candidate

Spyros obtained his MSc in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences at Utrecht University, The Netherlands (2023) where he focused on the molecular biology of various fungi. In November 2023 he joined the Laboratory of Genetics to start his PhD on a NWO-M1 funded project. His project focuses on the evolution and genetics underlying the multi-fungicide-resistance in the airborne human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus.

M Weichert_April 2023_a

Martin Weichert 
Postdoctoral researcher

Martin obtained his PhD in molecular cell biology from the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany (2016), on cell fusion in filamentous fungi. As a postdoc, he worked on stress adaptation and calcium homeostasis in A. fumigatus, University of Cincinnati, USA (2017-2020), followed by studies on membrane stress in Candida albicans in Braunschweig and the Centre for Medical Mycology in Exeter, UK (2020-2022). Supported by a Wageningen Graduate School postdoc talent grant, he joined the Laboratory of Genetics in April 2023 to explore links between membrane integrity and antifungal resistance in A. fumigatus.

News & Media

  • November 2023; The JPI AMR Distomos grant submission has succesfully been awarded to the GAP-AFR consortium led by Eveline as coordinator. More information can be found here. Partners of this consortium are; Michael Bromley, University of Manchester, United Kingdom (Partner), Jorge Amich, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain (Partner), Alida Fe Talento, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (Partner), Felix Bongomin, Gulu University, Uganda (Partner), Laurence Millon, University Hospital of Besançon, France (Partner), Matthew Fisher, Imperial College London, United Kingdom (Observer).
  • September 2023; a Dutch citizen science project was launched in autumn of 2023 to determine the azole resistance background levels in air. 
    In Dutch:”Het voornaamste doel van Schimmelradar is om uit te vinden hoeveel sporen er in de lucht aanwezig zijn in Nederland en welk deel van deze sporen azool-resistent zijn. Daarom roepen we in het najaar van 2023 mensen op om samen met ons door heel Nederland te meten.
     Eveline Snelders was te zien in RTL Nieuws en te horen op Radio 1 over Schimmelradar. Ook kunt u ons persbericht teruglezen in het AD of bij Vroege Vogels.”

Teaching

We are involved in the following courses @WUR:

  • ENT-51306 – Frontiers in Medical and Veterinary Biology

  • GEN-21306 – Personal Genetics (Coordinator)

    Students are welcome to join (MLO, HLO, BSc or MSc), if you are interested in doing your internship or thesis just send an e-mail indicating your preferences and interests. For WUR students an up-to-date list of thesis topics from the whole laboratory of Genetics including ours can be found on Brightspace or directly via this link: https://bit.ly/3DCJbBU

Research

A. fumigatus is ubiquitously found in nature facilitated by wind-borne dispersal of spores and its main habitat is decaying plant material. It can also cause severe invasive infections in the lungs of immunocompromised patients. Luckily there are highly effective antifungal drugs available and the azoles are the most important class to manage Aspergillus disease. Unfortunately a global emergence of azole resistance poses a major threat to manage fungal disease. Our research has shown that the use of agricultural azoles has facilitated emergence of azole resistance, a typical One Health problem. For our research we study the fungus where environment and human health interact by using genetic approaches such as sexual crosses, evolutionary lines, competition experiments, whole genome sequencing, bioinformatics and more.

We are involved in the NWO GreenIII project entitled “One health consequences of circularity; what lessons to learn from the saprophytic and human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus?” The objectives of this project are to (i) use the diversity of organic waste disposal in the bulb-sector to discern the key factors driving resistance development, (ii) use these factors to draw up an intervention plan that will be tested in the laboratory and on-site, and (iii) extend the obtained knowledge to general organic waste disposal to assess resistance and health risk across the system. Hylke Kortenbosch is appointed as the PhD student on this project.

With the NWO Aspasia funding we have now set up CRISPRcas9 in our laboratory (BSLII), by receiving technical support from Dr. Francisca Reyes Marquez. By receiving an NWO ENW-M1 funding in 2023, that is intended for conducting curiosity-driven fundamental scientific research with an impact, we will focus more broadly on which genes in the fungus cause multi fungicide resistance (not just azole resistance) and what the long-term consequences are for the treatment of fungal infections in hospitals and for crop protection in agriculture. This funding also allows us to implement the Galleria Mellonella virulence model. In November 2023, we received a JPI-AMR Distomos grant for the project GAF-AFR. Here, together with six international partners, we will develop tools to detect the emergence of dual-use antifungal resistance and provide appropriate risk assessments strategies. In addition, we aim to bridge the gap between environment and patient by using air sampling surveillance to investigate the exposure risk of antifungal resistant A. fumigatus in a wide range of geographical areas (including EU and Africa). We will soon be advertising a post-doc position.

Publications

An extensive list of all publications can be best found here on Google Scholar. 

Pre prints:

Catching more air: An effective and simple-to-use air sampling approach to assess aerial resistance fractions in Aspergillus fumigatus
Hylke H. KortenboschFabienne Van Leuven,Bas J. Zwaan, Eveline Snelders

Highlighted publications:

Emergence of azole resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus and spread of a single resistance mechanism
Eveline Snelders, Henrich A L van der Lee, Judith Kuijpers, Anthonius JM M Rijs, János Varga, Robert A Samson, Emilia Mellado, A Rogier T Donders, Willem J G Melchers, Paul E Verweij
PLoS medicine 5 (11), e219, 2008
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050219

Triazole Fungicides Can Induce Cross-Resistance to Medical Triazoles in Aspergillus fumigatus
Eveline Snelders, Simone MT Camps, Anna Karawajczyk, Gijs Schaftenaar, Gert HJ Kema, Henrich A Van der Lee, Corné H Klaassen, Willem JG Melchers, Paul E Verweij
PloS one 7 (3), e31801. 2012
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031801

Parasexual recombination enables Aspergillus fumigatus to persist in cystic fibrosis
Tobias Engel, Paul E Verweij, Joost Van Den Heuvel, Dechen Wangmo, Jianhua Zhang, Alfons JM Debets, Eveline Snelders
ERJ open research 6 (4), 2020
https://doi.org10.1183/23120541.00020-2020

The human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus can produce the highest known number of meiotic crossovers. Ben Auxier, Alfons J.M. Debets, Felicia Stanford, Johanna Rhodes, Frank M. Becker, Francisca Reyes Marquez, Reindert Nijland, Paul S. Dyer, Matthew C. Fisher, Joost van den Heuvel, Eveline Snelders. PLoS Biology 21(9): e3002278.
https://doi.org10.1183/23120541.00020-2020

Grants

Past funding:
2011 ESCMID Research grant
2015 NWO VENI
2018 ZonMW Off Road
2019 ESCMID Research grant

Current funding:
2019 NWO GreenIII
2020 NWO Aspasia
2023 NWO ENW M1
2024 JPI-AMR Distomos

Aspergillus fumigatus sporulating colony

Sporulating colony

Scanning Electron Microscopy Aspergillus fumigatus spore

Scanning electron microscopy of an asexual conidiospore

Sexual crossing plate Aspergillus fumigatus

Sexual crossing plate with a few white cleistothecia’s

Ascospore Aspergillus fumigatus

Light microscopy of a sexual, hamburger shaped, ascospore