Report: Labvisit 2020 in Curitiba – Anna Lara Ernst

17 Mar, 2020

27.01.2020 – 15.02.2020

In terms of a mandatory labvisit as a member of the RTG 1743 I started the organization of my labvisit in November 2019. We have had visiting scientists from Curitiba, Brazil in 2019 and the years before, so I had a connection to the University in Curitiba, where a friend recommended me to Marcio Rodrigues from the Fiocruz Institute of Parana-Curitiba. He is working on fungal extracellular vesicles and fungal culture and microscopy and I found that very interesting with regard to an addition to my thesis topic “QTL mapping of intestinal mycobiota with functional validation”. The contact with Marcio went via E-mail and was very informative and easy and he accepted my request straight away, as to the institute also benefits from visiting scientists from abroad. Marcio is a senior investigator in fungal infections as well as the coordinator of the Graduate Program of Biosciences and Biotechnology and he happily received me on my first working day in Curitiba and introduced me to the institute, his laboratory and the colleagues. All were very friendly and young scientists, ranging from undergraduates to postdocs as well as laboratory staff members.

The group of Marcio is working on the detection and analysis of fungal extracellular vesicles (EVs) in fungal infections. They use a Cryptococcus sp. model, where they culture fungi, microscopically examine them and perform isolation of EVs, fungal DNA and RNA as well as miRNA isolation from EVs. Marcios group uses very modern laboratory equipment and a wide range of different types of microscopes (electron scanning, scanning, fluorescence and more). I got to know the background of their research ideas as well as the techniques and joined the colleagues whenever they performed experiments. We spent time discussing the experiments as well as the analysis. I got to present my own thesis data at the institute of Fiocruz as well as at the University of Curitiba. Both times I got a lot of helpful and positive feedback.

The Fiocruz Institute itself is located in South Brazil in Parana state and is a very modern laboratory research environment. It is financed not only by the state but also by the ministry of health and it offers great services to the employees so that science itself can be easily done there. I could for example take a free shuttle bus each morning and afternoon, which every employee can take from different parts of the city to get to and come from the institute. It is also special that there are a lot of independent researchers without holding a professorship (like at the university). We already have co-operations with the Curitiba University and we hope that we might build new ones with also the Fiocruz Institute.

To conclude, I really enjoyed my stay in Curitiba at the Fiocruz Institute, learned some new methods, such as isolation of fungal extracellular vesicles, microscopic analysis of fungal cells (electronic microscopy and immunofluorescence) and serological detection of fungal antigens in the Cryptococcus model. And I got insights into a quite different research field on fungal infections that bears potential for further co-operations and investigations. I would like to encourage everyone to apply for internships as to Marcios and other working groups always gladly accept visitors especially from abroad. They are looking forward to receive more international researchers, also undergraduates.