Infections with the human pathogenic basidiomycetous yeast
Cryptococcus neoformansare often treated with fluconazole. Resistance to this antifungal agent has been reported. This study investigated the patterns of mutation to fluconazole resistance in C. neoformansin vitro. The MIC of fluconazole was measured for 21 strains of C. neoformans. The MICs for these 21 strains differed (0.25 to 4.0 μg/ml), but the strains were selected for this study because they exhibited no growth on plates of yeast morphology agar (YMA) containing 8 μg of fluconazole per ml. To determine their mutation rates, six independent cultures from a single original colony were established for each of the 21 strains. Each culture was then spread densely on a YMA plate with 8 μg of fluconazole per ml. A random set of putative mutants was subcultured, and the MIC of fluconazole was determined for each mutant. The 21 strains evinced significant heterogeneity in their mutation rates. The MICs of the putative mutants ranged widely, from their original MIC to 64 μg of fluconazole per ml. However, for this set of 21 strains, there was no significant correlation between the original MIC for a strain and the mutation rate of that strain; the MIC for the mutant could not be predicted from the original MIC. These results suggest that dynamic and heterogeneous mutational processes are involved in generating fluconazole resistance in C. neoformans.