Genetic and environmental influences on the germination of basidiospores in the Cryptococcus neoformans species complex Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In basidiomycetous fungi, the viability of basidiospores is an important component of sexual fitness. However, relatively little is known about the genetic and environmental factors influencing basidiospore germination. In this study, we used human opportunistic yeast pathogens, Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus deneoformans, as models to investigate the potential effects of selected genetic and environmental factors on basidiospore germination. A total of five strains with known genome structure were used to construct six crosses, three of which were between strains within the same species, while the remaining three were hybrid crosses between C. neoformans and C. deneoformans. Offspring from these crosses were incubated on two media (a nutrient-limiting and a nutrient-rich) and three temperatures (23 °C, 30 °C, and 37 °C). In general, spores from intra-specific crosses had greater germination rates than those from inter-specific crosses. Of the two environmental factors, temperature showed a greater influence than nutrient medium, with the 37 °C environment yielding lower germination rates than at 23 °C and 30 °C environments in most crosses. Furthermore, there were notable interaction effects between environmental factors and parental strains or strain pairs on basidiospore germination. We discuss the implications of these results on pathogenesis and speciation in this human fungal pathogen.

publication date

  • September 2016