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Sex Played A Vital Role For Evolution Of Infectious Diseases

viduals with apparently normal immunity. Symptoms include persistent headaches, coughing and night sweats. In rare cases, C. gattii causes cryptococcal disease, pneumonia, meningitis or death.

While C. neoformans is found worldwide in association with pigeon droppings, the rarer C. gattii is normally restricted to tropical and subtropical areas, often in association with Eucalyptus trees.

It is suspected that the infectious propagules of Cryptococcus are airborne spores, Heitman said. Such spores are produced during sexual reproduction, though mating of the fungus has never been observed in nature. In fungi, however, sexual identity is determined by so-called mating type loci, genes arranged contiguously, but which typically do not span an entire chromosome.

This initial finding, suggests that the two C. gattii strains in Vancouver Island are either siblings or that one is the parent and the other the progeny.

Sex within the same mating-type may confer an evolutionary advantage when the opposite mating type is unavailable, Heitman said. Other human pathogens or parasites may harbor cryptic same-sex cycles that contribute to produce progeny with altered virulence, geographic or host range or other advantageous characteristics.

Source: Eureka alert
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