Monday, 6 June 2016

Global fungal threat: Six new species associated with bat evolution


Histoplasma infection poses deadly risk to HIV, other immune-compromised patients

Date: June 2, 2016
Source: The Translational Genomics Research Institute

A fungal infection associated with a high percentage of deaths among HIV and other immune-compromised patients is more diverse than previously known and likely spread around the world by bats.

A global assessment of the fungus Histoplasma by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) found that the pathogen is actually divided among six species, and that its spread and speciation from continent-to-continent over the past 9 million years coincides with the global dispersal and evolution of bats.

Published in the scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, TGen's study of 234 samples of Histoplasma capsulatum from around the world used the latest in genetic sequencing to characterize the differences between various species of this fungus. The study estimates a timeframe for its evolution, based on the average rate of genetic mutations.

"We need to better understand this disease so we can be better prepared for infectious outbreaks, and to see its relationship to similar fungal infections, such as Valley Fever," said Dr. Bridget Barker, TGen Assistant Professor of Pathogen Genomics and the senior author of this study. "There currently is no cure and no vaccine for this disease."


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