Fantastic yeasts and where to find them: the discovery of a predominantly clonal Cryptococcus deneoformans population in Saudi Arabian soils Journal Articles uri icon

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  • ABSTRACTCryptococcus deneoformans is an opportunist yeast pathogen and causative agent of meningoencephalitis in humans. It is known to be mainly distributed in temperate climates. Most of our current understanding of this species has come from clinical isolates, leaving environmental populations largely unexplored. The Middle East remains one such underexplored area with no published study to date investigating cryptococcal diversity in soil. In this study, we identified 76 C. deneoformans isolates from a survey of 562 soil samples collected from six cities in Saudi Arabia. Multilocus sequence typing revealed the presence of two major sequence types (STs), ST160 (n = 63) and ST294 (n = 9), along with four singleton STs, three of which were novel. One novel ST, ST613, was likely a recombinant product between ST160 and ST294. Among the 76 isolates, 75 belonged to mating type (MAT)α while one isolate was MATa. Our analyses suggest that the Saudi Arabian C. deneoformans population likely reproduces both asexually and sexually in nature. Our study is the first to report the occurrence of C. deneoformans in a desert climate, representing a novel expansion to this species’ currently known ecological niche.


  • Samarasinghe, Himeshi
  • Aljohani, Renad
  • Jimenez, Carlene
  • Xu, Jianping

publication date

  • September 1, 2019