Distribution ofCryptococcus gattiiandCryptococcus neoformansin decayed trunk wood ofSyzygium cuminitrees in north-western India
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The aim of this study is to report the regional distribution of Cryptococcus. gattii and Cryptococcus. neoformans in decayed wood inside trunk hollows of Syzygium cumini trees (Java plum, Indian black berry) investigated in Amritsar (Panjab), Meerut Cantt. and Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh) and Delhi, in north-western India. Two hundred and seventeen wood samples collected from 74 S. cumini trees were investigated. This includes 7 known positive S. cumini trees in Delhi subjected to a mycological surveillance for perennial colonization by C. gattii and C. neoformans. Cryptococcus gattii showed the highest prevalence (89%) in S. cumini trees in Delhi, followed by 27%, 12.5% and 9% prevalence in Bulandshahr, Amritsar City and Meerut Cantt., respectively. In contrast, C. neoformans had the highest prevalence (54%) in Amritsar, followed by 44% in Delhi, 9% in Bulandshahr and 0% in Meerut Cantt. Furthermore, 44% of the S. cumini trees in Delhi, 9% in Bulandshahr and 8% in Amritsar were concomitantly colonized by both C. gattii and C. neoformans. A mycological surveillance over 4.8-5.2 years of 7 selected S. cumini trees in Delhi revealed perennial colonization by both the Cryptococcus species. In addition, air samples taken close to the decayed trunk hollows of 4 of the perennially colonized S. cumini trees contained strains of the C. neoformans species complex. Of a random sample of 48 isolates serotyped, 26 (54%) were C. neoformans, serotype A, and 22 (46%) C. gattii, serotype B. Determination of mating type alleles was done in 44 of the isolates, comprising 31 of C. neoformans, serotype A and 13 of C.gattii, serotype B. All of them proved to be mating type alpha (MATalpha). The data on high prevalence, fungal population density, perennial colonization and aerial isolations indicate that decayed wood in trunk hollows of S. cumini trees is to-date the main well documented primary environmental niche of C. gattii and C. neoformans in north-western India. Attention is drawn to the likely health hazard posed by the environmental reservoirs of C. gattii and C. neoformans occurring in tree trunk hollows in proximity to human and animal habitations.
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