News from CRG
A new genetic analysis of fungal yeast infections (candidiasis) from around the world has revealed surprising secrets about how these microbes reproduce and cause disease.
Working together with researchers in the Université Paris-Sud in France and University Medical Centre Göttingen in Germany, ICREA Research Professor Toni Gabaldón and his team at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona (CRG) read the genetic code of 33 separate strains of the yeast Candida glabrata, the second most common cause of candidiasis.
They discovered that all the samples were very different from each other at a genetic level, particularly within genes encoding molecules that help the yeast to infect humans.
Until now, it was thought that C. glabrata only reproduced asexually by budding, even though the yeast contains genes required for sexual reproduction.
But Gabaldón and his team found strong genetic evidence that C. glabrata could reproduce sexually, giving it the opportunity to swap genetic information. This ability may give the yeast new ways to evolve resistance to treatment and increase their infectious ability.
By using this genetic data to reconstruct a ‘family tree’ for all the strains, the researchers showed that there were originally seven distinct types of C. glabrata in separate parts of the world which have only recently come into contact and intermingled, presumably as a result of increased global human migration and travel.
The study was published in Current Biology.
Carreté L et al. Patterns of genomic variation in the opportunistic pathogen Candida glabrata suggest the existence of mating and a secondary association to humans. Current Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.027