Oral yeast flora and its ITS sequence diversity among a large cohort of medical students in Hainan, China
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The most prevalent fungal infection of humans is candidiasis which is caused by species of Candida that are typical members of the commensal microbial flora of the oral mucosa and other body surfaces. Since species of Candida differ in virulence properties and susceptibilities to anti-fungal drugs, understanding the human commensal yeast flora will have a significant impact on designing treatment and prevention strategies against yeast infections. However, although there is a global interest in Candida species, the global distributions of Candida species remain largely unknown, especially among healthy hosts. Here we report the oral yeast flora from the surveys of over 1,000 medical students in China. Our results showed that this population had a yeast carriage rate (4.5%) much lower than other population samples reported previously from Mainland China (40-70%). In addition, C. albicans was isolated at a much higher frequency than those from other Chinese samples, with a frequency (80.9%) more similar to those in developed regions such as North America. The oral yeast carriage rates and yeast species compositions were similar between male and female students and between the hosts borne and raised on Hainan Island and those borne and raised on Mainland China. Furthermore, the sequence variation at the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the nuclear ribosomal RNA gene cluster was analyzed for strains of the dominant species, C. albicans. Our analysis identified 14 ITS types among the 41 Hainan isolates of C. albicans. However, only four of the 14 ITS types were identical to those in reference strains from Europe and North America. Taken together, our analyses suggest that the oral yeast flora among host populations in China is highly heterogeneous and that there is a high ITS sequence diversity in the Hainan population of C. albicans.
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