Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Taking mating cues from many sources, pathogen adapts to thrive and infect

Date:
January 24, 2011
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
New research shows that a nasty yeast called Candida albicans, a source of infections in humans, can become inspired to mate and to form biofilms by the pheromones of many other species. It can even switch over to same-sex mating when an opposite-sex partner is unavailable.

The success of a fungal pathogen in becoming a persistent and opportunistic source of infection in human beings may be due to a mating strategy that can best be described as "don't be too choosy." A new Brown University study finds that Candida albicans will respond to the pheromones of several different species, not just its own, and if an opposite-sex partner isn't around, it can switch over to same-sex mating. In affairs of DNA exchange -- for the yeast has no heart -- Candida is exquisitely pragmatic.

Related Articles


When the yeast is not in a sexually active state, the same wide variety of pheromones can inspire it to clump together in tough-to-treat biofilms, said Richard Bennett, professor of biology and co-author of the paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The surprising finding that Candida albicans is so indiscriminate about pheromones could help in the fight against infections, which can sometimes be deadly for patients with compromised immune systems, Bennett said. The study illuminates both how the yeast may genetically adapt and how it can be induced to form biofilms.

"Sex can potentially generate recombinant forms of the species that may have increased drug resistance or altered pathogenic properties, a theory that we are currently testing," Bennett said. "Also, there are now direct links between mating and pathogenesis, as pheromone signaling can increase biofilm formation, an important first step in the establishment of many clinical infections."

In lab experiments led by first author and graduate student Kevin Alby, the researchers synthesized pheromones from several other Candida species. To varying degrees, many of the pheromones they used inspired mating in sexually active "opaque" C. albicans cells, including same-sex mating, while causing biofilm formation in sexually inactive "white" cells.

Bennett said the experiments were a "first step" to understanding mating signals and conditions in infectious Candida species. The next step is to determine whether other infectious fungi are similarly promiscuous and whether their previously underappreciated propensity for mating is perhaps based on a form of pathogenic peer pressure.

"We speculate that this could be a general advantage for fungi," he said. "If they sense other species are trying to mate, perhaps they decide they should too."

Another question, Bennett says, is whether the fungi could even be similarly receptive to chemical signals emitted by their human hosts.

Bennett and Alby's research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.


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. K. Alby, R. J. Bennett. Interspecies pheromone signaling promotes biofilm formation and same-sex mating in Candida albicans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (6): 2510 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1017234108

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Taking mating cues from many sources, pathogen adapts to thrive and infect." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124151715.htm>.
Brown University. (2011, January 24). Taking mating cues from many sources, pathogen adapts to thrive and infect. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124151715.htm
Brown University. "Taking mating cues from many sources, pathogen adapts to thrive and infect." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110124151715.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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