Contemporary Gene Flow is a Major Force Shaping the Aspergillus fumigatus Population in Auckland, New Zealand
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Aspergillus fumigatus is a globally distributed opportunistic fungal pathogen capable of causing highly lethal invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised individuals. Recent studies have indicated that the global population consists of multiple, divergent genetic clusters that are geographically broadly distributed. However, most of the analyzed samples have come from continental Eurasia and the Americas where the effects of ancient versus recent factors are difficult to distinguish. Here, we investigated environmental A. fumigatus isolates from Auckland, New Zealand, a geographically isolated population, and compared them with those from other parts of the world to determine the relative roles of historical differentiation and recent gene flow in shaping A. fumigatus populations. Our data suggest that the Auckland A. fumigatus population contains both unique indigenous genetic elements as well as genetic elements that are similar to those from other regions such as Europe, Africa, and North America. Though the hypothesis of random recombination was rejected, we found abundant evidence for phylogenetic incompatibility and recombination within the Auckland A. fumigatus population. Additionally, susceptibility testing identified two triazole-resistant strains, one of which contained the globally distributed mutation TR34/L98H in the cyp51A gene. Our results suggest that contemporary gene flow, likely due to anthropogenic factors, is a major force shaping the New Zealand A. fumigatus population.
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