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 January 29, 2015 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 January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

Scientists Hold Emergency Meeting to Save Endangered Rhinos

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Conservationists and scientists hold talks in Kenya to come up with a last ditch plan to save the northern white rhinoceros from extinction. Duration: 01:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
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