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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Jul;6(14):1903-11.

Pneumocystis carinii shows DNA homology with the ustomycetous red yeast fungi.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Pneumocystis carinii causes life-threatening pneumonia in T-lymphocyte-immunodeficient subjects in transplant and oncology units or with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Recent DNA homology studies show P. carinii to be a fungus. To investigate the biology and epidemiology of this parasite further, we elected to determine for it a more precise taxonomic assignment within the fungal kingdom. We screened a wide range of organisms representing the major orders of fungi using DNA amplification and subsequently sequenced a portion of the mitochondrial gene encoding the large subunit ribosomal RNA. Our data show that the opportunistic pulmonary pathogen P. carinii is closely related to the ustomycetous red yeast fungi, a group which includes organisms that are extensively distributed throughout the environment and which release many widely dispersed airborne spores.

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