Amoeba provide insight into the origin of virulence in pathogenic fungi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

49 Scopus citations


Why are some fungi pathogenic while the majority poses no threat to humans or other hosts? Of the more than 1.5 million fungal species only about 150-300 are pathogenic for humans, and of these, only 10-15 are relatively common pathogens. In contrast, fungi are major pathogens for plants and insects. These facts pose several fundamental questions including the mechanisms responsible for the origin of virulence among the few pathogenic species and the high resistance of mammals to fungal diseases. This essay explores the origin of virulences among environmental fungi with no obvious requirement for animal association and proposes that selection pressures by amoeboid predators led to the emergence of traits that can also promote survival in mammalian hosts. In this regard, analysis of the interactions between the human pathogenic funges Cryptococcus neoformans and amoeba have shown a remarkable similarity with the interaction of this fungus with macrophages. Hence the virulence of environmental pathogenic fungi is proposed to originate from a combination of selection by amoeboid predators and perhaps other soil organism with thermal tolerance sufficient to allow survival in mammalian hosts

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRecent Advances on Model Hosts
EditorsEleftherios Mylonakis, Frederick Ausubel, Michael Gilmore, Arturo Casadevall
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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