Alexander I. May


Alexander I. May




I’m from Melbourne in Australia, and have been interested in biology ever since I was a child. At my school, we had to study Japanese as a foreign language, which I also found really interesting, and I’ve been studying both ever since. I’m now working in the Ohsumi lab looking at the role autophagy plays in the lives of yeast. I would never have guessed this is what I’d end up doing if you’d asked me a decade ago, but I thoroughly enjoy being able to exercise my passions for both science and Japanese every day.


The WRHI programme has been an excellent opportunity for me to follow my passion for basic research in a stimulating and free environment. The WRHI provides ample facilities and support to conduct research, and I’m now able to focus on my work without too many distractions.


  • The role of autophagy in yeast growth and metabolism.

    I’m trying to understand the role that autophagy plays in yeast cells as they grow and proliferate, especially in response to changing metabolic conditions. Yeast are a great organism to use for this, because it’s easy to manipulate their genes, they grow very quickly, we have a relatively good understanding of how their metabolism works, and it’s also fairly easy to discriminate between the major modes of energy production when they’re growing. I’m interested in particular in the relationship between autophagy and mitochondrial function. To investigate this, I’m using a range of methods, ranging from the evaluation of growth to analysis of protein and RNA degradation and modification throughout different phases of culture.
    Period: 2016 - present
    Members: Member of the Ohsumi lab



東京工業大学 科学技術創成研究院 特任助教


東京工業大学 大隅研究室 客員研究員


モナシュ大学 博士課程

2012 - 2014

Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Postgraduate Award(オーストラリア国政府)


Stuart Stone Medal(Monash大学)


Kusumaatmaja, H., May, A. I., & Knorr, R. L. (2021). Intracellular wetting mediates contacts between liquid compartments and membrane-bound organelles. Journal of Cell Biology, 220(10).


Kusumaatmaja, H., May, A. I., Feeney, M., McKenna, J. F., Mizushima, N., Frigerio, L., & Knorr, R. L. (2021). Wetting of phase-separated droplets on plant vacuole membranes leads to a competition between tonoplast budding and nanotube formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(36).


Schultz, S. W., Agudo-Canalejo, J., Chino, H., Migliano, S. M., Saito, C., Koyama-Honda, I., Stenmark, H., Brech, A., Mizushima, N., Knorr, R. L., & May, A. I. (2021). Should I bend or should I grow: the mechanisms of droplet-mediated autophagosome formation. Autophagy, 17(4), 1046–1048.


Agudo-Canalejo, J., Schultz, S. W., Chino, H., Migliano, S. M., Saito, C., Koyama-Honda, I., Stenmark, H., Brech, A., May, A. I., Mizushima, N., & Knorr, R. L. (2021). Wetting regulates autophagy of phase-separated compartments and the cytosol. Nature, 591(7848), 142–146.


May, A. I., Prescott, M., & Ohsumi, Y. (2020). Autophagy facilitates adaptation of budding yeast to respiratory growth by recycling serine for one-carbon metabolism. Nature Communications, 11, 5052.


Fujioka, Y., Alam, J. M., Noshiro, D., Mouri, K., Ando, T., Okada, Y., May, A. I., Knorr, R. L., Suzuki, K., Ohsumi, Y., & Noda, N. N. (2020). Phase separation organizes the site of autophagosome formation. Nature, 578(7794), 301–305.