Ashley Garrill

Associate ProfessorAshley Garrill

Julius von Haast 420
Fungal and oomycete cell biology


Research Interests

Fungi and oomycetes play key roles in the breakdown of organic matter in almost every ecological niche on the planet. Yet there are many species that are pathogenic and can cause disease. These present an increasing risk to ecosystems and human affairs. One aspect of their pathogenicity is their ability to grow invasively and their cells (hyphae) can act like pressurised drill bits and generate protrusive force. We are trying to understand the processes that underlie the generation of these forces using conventional cell biology and biochemistry techniques, coupled with Lab-on-a-Chip microfluidic devices..

For a Radio New Zealand broadcast about this work see:

We are also investigating species of algae that live in estuaries. Estuaries are of extreme ecological, economic and cultural significance in NZ, yet for the algae and plants that live there they can present an extreme challenge due to the tides causing constant changes in salinity. These organisms have to constantly change their internal solute concentrations to enable their cells to remain turgid (or pressurised). Certain species of yellow green algae appear to have novel means of using sodium ions for this purpose.

More recently we have started characterising fungi (Candida species) from clinical settings in Africa and have had additional projects investigating drug targeting of ovarian cancer cell lines.

Recent Publications

  • Degnan RM., McTaggart AR., Shuey LS., Pame LJ., Smith GR., Gardiner DM., Nock V., Soffe R., Sale S. and Garrill A. (2022) Exogenous double-stranded RNA inhibits infection physiology of rust fungi to reduce symptoms in planta. Molecular Plant Pathology 00: 1-17.
  • Dunn E., Chitcholtan K., Sykes P. and Garrill A. (2022) The Anti-Proliferative Effect of PI3K/mTOR and ERK Inhibition in Monolayer and Three-Dimensional Ovarian Cancer Cell Models. Cancers 14(2)
  • Lacalendola N., Tayagui A., Ting M., Malmstrom J., Nock V., Willmott GR. and Garrill A. (2022) Biomechanical responses of encysted zoospores of the oomycete Achlya bisexualis to hyperosmotic stress are consistent with an ability to turgor regulate. Fungal Genetics and Biology 159 103676
  • Maddocks W., Tayagui A., Collins B., Williams O. and Garrill A. (2021) Evaluating the effects of kānuka essential oil (Kunzea ericoides) grown in different locations in New Zealand on two pathogenic dermatophytes: An in vitro study. American Journal of Nssential Oils and Natural Products 9(2): 28-33.
  • Sun Y., Tayagui A., Sale S., Sarkar D., Nock V. and Garrill A. (2021) Platforms for High-Throughput Screening and Force Measurements on Fungi and Oomycetes. Micromachines 12(6) 639: 1-17.