A Deadly Fungus Has Been Having Sneaky Sex, And It Could Destroy Humans

A Deadly Fungus Has Been Having Sneaky Sex, And It Could Destroy Humans ...

A 70-year-old Japanese lady's ear canal was discovered in 2009, making the yeast a unique illness. It has now spread throughout the world and become resistant to many medications. A new study shows it can also reproduce in an unexpected manner.

C. aurisis isn't your helpful bakers or brewer's yeast. It's notorious for ending up in hospitals and infecting those with weak immune systems. Unfortunately, it can also enter the bloodstream; without an effective antifungal, patients can die.

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada have discovered evidence of sexual reproduction in C. auris. This might lead to further drug-resistant and viral strains of the fungus.

In their latest paper, the team notes that C. auris has provided no evidence for mating or sexual reproduction.

"This study found limited but unambiguous evidence of recombination in both the whole sample and within individual clades."

Asexual reproduction cannot be reconstituted by recombination, so there had to be some hanky panky on the cards at some point in the past (or some other method of shuffling around genetic information).

Although we haven't seen the yeast in action, the notion that C. auris occasionally reproduces isn't quite as crazy as it sounds. We already know that a much more well-known yeast,Saccharomyces cerevisiae(this yeast is used in baking, winemaking, and brewing), will very occasionally mate with each other in times of difficulty.

The team did not catch C. auris in the act, but they were able to examine the fungal and mitochondrial genes in 1,285 strains of fungus. This enabled them to investigate the genetic differences between the five clades of C. auris, as well as within the clades themselves.

The team discovered some recombination, but most of it took place before the yeast split into the five clades. Some clades have seemingly lost the ability to mat, while others have had little recombination since the split. So, although sex might occasionally occur, it is absolutely not often.

But even unreported sex can imply new resistances or other strategies of making this pathogen more harmful to us humans.

Jianping Xu, a McMaster University microbial geneticist, says the research shows that this insect has recombined in the past and can recombine in nature. It therefore has the capability to generate new genetic variations quite quickly.

"It's a double-edged sword, since we learned how they recombine in nature, and we may rework the process in the lab, which might help us to understand the genetic mechanisms that make it such a dangerous pathogen much quicker."

Although there are a lot of things we need to know about C. auris, looking deeper into its genes to discover a sex life is a good start.

The findings have been published in the Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal.

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