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A New Lineage of Cryptococcus gattii (VGV) Discovered in the Central Zambezian Miombo Woodlands

Farrer, RA; Chang, M; Davis, MJ; van Dorp, L; Yang, D-H; Shea, T; Sewell, TR; ... Kwon-Chung, KJ; + view all (2019) A New Lineage of Cryptococcus gattii (VGV) Discovered in the Central Zambezian Miombo Woodlands. MBio , 10 (6) , Article e02306-19. 10.1128/mBio.02306-19. Green open access

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Abstract

We discovered a new lineage of the globally important fungal pathogen Cryptococcus gattii on the basis of analysis of six isolates collected from three locations spanning the Central Miombo Woodlands of Zambia, Africa. All isolates were from environments (middens and tree holes) that are associated with a small mammal, the African hyrax. Phylogenetic and population genetic analyses confirmed that these isolates form a distinct, deeply divergent lineage, which we name VGV. VGV comprises two subclades (A and B) that are capable of causing mild lung infection with negligible neurotropism in mice. Comparing the VGV genome to previously identified lineages of C. gattii revealed a unique suite of genes together with gene loss and inversion events. However, standard URA5 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis could not distinguish between VGV and VGIV isolates. We therefore developed a new URA5 RFLP method that can reliably identify the newly described lineage. Our work highlights how sampling understudied ecological regions alongside genomic and functional characterization can broaden our understanding of the evolution and ecology of major global pathogens.IMPORTANCECryptococcus gattii is an environmental pathogen that causes severe systemic infection in immunocompetent individuals more often than in immunocompromised humans. Over the past 2 decades, researchers have shown that C. gattii falls within four genetically distinct major lineages. By combining field work from an understudied ecological region (the Central Miombo Woodlands of Zambia, Africa), genome sequencing and assemblies, phylogenetic and population genetic analyses, and phenotypic characterization (morphology, histopathological, drug-sensitivity, survival experiments), we discovered a hitherto unknown lineage, which we name VGV (variety gattii five). The discovery of a new lineage from an understudied ecological region has far-reaching implications for the study and understanding of fungal pathogens and diseases they cause.

Type: Article
Title: A New Lineage of Cryptococcus gattii (VGV) Discovered in the Central Zambezian Miombo Woodlands
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02306-19
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02306-19
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Cryptococcus, drug resistance evolution, genome analysis, molecular epidemiology, mycology, population genetics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086531
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