Researchers reveal six new genome sequences and fundamental insights to the Candida fungus family

May 25, 2009
Candida species growing as biofilms on catheter material. Image: UCD

An international research collaboration coordinated by UCD (University College Dublin) researchers and involving scientists at 21 institutes including the genome sequencing centres in the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK and the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard, USA have defined six new genome sequences in the Candida fungus family and identified genetic differences in species that cause disease.

The research, published yesterday in Nature, describes how Candida strains have evolved and ensured their survival by adapting their to respond to changes in their environment. Candida species are the most common cause of opportunistic fungal infection worldwide.

The incidence of Candida parapsilosis in particular poses the greatest threat to transplant patients and as it forms a film that coats the inside of medical devices such as implants, catheters or feeding tubes. The is drug resistant and the only effective treatment involves the removal of the medical device. Prior to this work, very little was known about this species.
The UCD research team led by Professor Geraldine Butler from UCD Conway Institute & School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science looked at key components of mating and cell division in Candida species, shedding new light on how the fungi reproduce and survive. 

Professor Butler, scientific coordinator on this project, began working to identify the sequence of genes of C. parapsilosis in 2003 through funding from Science Foundation Ireland. She said, “We started by sequencing small parts of the C. parapsilosis genome, which led to our collaboration with the Sanger Institute to sequence the entire genome, and finally to combining this genome with others sequenced by the Broad Institute”

Commenting on their findings, Professor Butler says, “Candida species were originally believed to be incapable of mating, and so may have difficulties in adapting to new environments or new hosts. As a result of our analysis, we now know a great deal more about the evolution of mating, and how some species recombine their genes. Interestingly, C. parapsilosis is probably the only species that cannot mate”

By comparing the genetic sequences in disease and non-disease causing fungi, the team found that in general, the disease causing  Candida species have many more copies of genes involved in adhesion, and in the cell wall. The stickiness of the proteins in the cell wall makes it easier for the fungi to adhere to the human host. Further research on the regulation of these proteins may lead to developing treatment methods for infections caused by fungi in the future.

More information: ‘Evolution of pathogenicity and sexual reproduction in eight Candida genomes’,

Provided by University College Dublin

Explore further: Researchers hone in on new strategy to treat common infection

Related Stories

Researchers hone in on new strategy to treat common infection

October 27, 2008

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) have successfully tested a genetic strategy designed to improve treatment of human infections caused by the yeast Candida albicans, ranging from diaper rash, vaginitis, ...

Evolution of the Sexes: What a Fungus Can Tell Us

January 9, 2008

Fungi don't exactly come in boy and girl varieties, but they do have sex differences. In fact, a new finding from Duke University Medical Center shows that some of the earliest evolved forms of fungus contain clues to how ...

Sex life of killer fungus finally revealed

December 1, 2008

Biologists at The University of Nottingham and University College Dublin have announced a major breakthrough in our understanding of the sex life of a microscopic fungus which is a major cause of death in immune deficient ...

Yeast missing sex genes undergo unexpected sexual reproduction

May 24, 2009

An emerging form of the pathogenic yeast Candida is able to complete a full sexual cycle in a test tube, even though it's missing the genes for reproduction. And it may also do so while infecting us, according to Duke University ...

Recommended for you


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.