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.

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 October 1, 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 October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 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