Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fungus Found In Humans Shown To Be Nimble In Mating Game

Date:
August 16, 2009
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Researchers have determined that Candida albicans, a human fungal pathogen, pursues both same-sex and the more conventional opposite-sex mating.

Scanning Electron Micrograph of Candida albicans showing buds and bud scars.
Credit: NIH

Brown University researchers have discovered that Candida albicans, a human fungal pathogen that causes thrush and other diseases, pursues same-sex mating in addition to conventional opposite-sex mating.

Scientists have observed this same-sex mode of reproduction in other fungi, but this is the first time they have identified it in Candida albicans, the most common human fungal pathogen.

“This discovery really surprised us,” said Richard Bennett, assistant professor of biology in the Department Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Brown. “Candida albicans has two mating types — a and alpha — and it was assumed that mating could only occur between these two cell types. We now know that a mechanism exists for same-sex mating, and thus sex could be more prevalent in this species than previously recognized.”

Details are highlighted in the August 2009 edition of the journal Nature.

Bennett is the paper’s senior author, and graduate student Kevin Alby is first author. Research assistant Dana Schaefer also contributed.

Bennett said his lab learned the mechanisms of sexual reproduction for Candida albicans are both more varied and interesting than previously thought. Researchers also showed that the mechanism by which same-sex mating is driven involves high levels of mating pheromones.

Bennett sees his lab’s findings as suggesting that sex can take place within a unisexual population — populations once thought to be completely asexual because they have only one of the two sexes. This can increase the opportunities for sex in natural populations of Candida cells.

The findings have broader implications for how sex occurs in related species that only have one sex.

“We are trying to demonstrate that these single-sex species have the same mechanism of pheromone signaling that we have uncovered in Candida albicans,” Bennett said.

Researchers conducting their study used 19 specimens, or isolates, of Candida albicans during the two years of the project. The samples are single-celled yeast related to baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), about several microns across. One cell is too small to see with the maked eye, but colonies of thousands of cells can be easily viewed.

The Bennett lab’s findings parallel another interesting case of same-sex mating in a common fungal human pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans. This species is unrelated to Candida albicans, which suggests same-sex mating has evolved in two divergent pathogens.

With that in mind, Bennett said his finding means that unisexual reproduction could be important for microbial pathogenesis.

Bennett’s research was funded by an Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award from the Burroughs Welcome Fund. Alby was supported by a federal training grant for Graduate Assistants in Areas of National Need.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alby et al. Homothallic and heterothallic mating in the opportunistic pathogen Candida albicans. Nature, 2009; 460 (7257): 890 DOI: 10.1038/nature08252

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Fungus Found In Humans Shown To Be Nimble In Mating Game." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163750.htm>.
Brown University. (2009, August 16). Fungus Found In Humans Shown To Be Nimble In Mating Game. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163750.htm
Brown University. "Fungus Found In Humans Shown To Be Nimble In Mating Game." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090812163750.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins