Phenotypic and genetic diversity ofMalassezia furfurfrom domestic and zoo animals

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Malassezia furfur is traditionally associated to human skin, although more recent studies have been revealing its presence in a variety of animals. The aim of this study was to analyze phenotypically and genetically the diversity among strains isolated from animals of this species. We have examined 21 strains of M. furfur from domestic and wild animals held in captivity. On the one hand, their phenotypic characteristics were studied, by assessing its growth at different incubation temperatures, their catalase and β-glucosidase activities and the Tween diffusion test on Sabouraud glucose agar (SGA), and on yeast nitrogen base agar (YNBA), a synthetic medium without lipids. On the other hand, the large subunit (LSU) and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of ribosomal RNA and the β-tubulin gene were sequenced. Different sequence types were identified for each target gene, and fourteen genotypes were revealed. While several genotypes were obtained from the strains from domestic animals, the strains from zoo animals appeared to be genetically more stable. With ITS and β-tubulin gene, M. furfur strains grouped in two clades. One clade included the strains from domestic animals and the other clade included the strains from zoo animals. The phenotypic tests also revealed a remarkable diversity within this species, which appeared to be more significant among strains from domestic animals. Moreover, the Tween diffusion test using YNBA was more useful to observe differences among strains, which could not be perceived using SGA.

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