Scientists from P&G Beauty announced that they successfully sequenced the complete genome for Malassezia globosa (M. globosa), a naturally occurring fungus responsible for the onset of dandruff and other skin conditions in humans. Results of the genome sequencing are published in todays online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis affect more than 50 percent of the human population. Despite the role of Malassezia in these and other common skin diseases, including eczema, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, little was known about the fungus at the molecular level until this study. In addition, understanding of Malassezias genetic make-up may help scientists reevaluate the parameters that have historically been used to classify fungal organisms.
M. globosa, which is among the smallest of the sequenced free-living fungal organisms, is comprised of just around 4,285 genes roughly 300 times fewer base pairs than are found in the human genome. A common fungus that lives on the skin of humans, M. globosa feeds off of fatty external lipids. Humans naturally secrete sebum and other lipids onto the scalp, creating a prime environment for M. globosa to thrive. The average human can host to up to 10 million M. globosa. Symptoms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis occur when three factors come together: genetic susceptibility for an inflammatory response, the presence of sebum on the scalp and the presence of M. globosa.
"A complete genomic sequencing of a Malassezia genome opens tremendous opportunities for researchers to understand the interactions of fungi and humans," said Thomas Dawson, Ph.D., a scientist at P&G Beauty and the principal author of the PNAS study. "Its amazing that the understanding of the genetic make-up of a microscopic organism can have broad implications ranging from human health to agricultural
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