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Eukaryot Cell. 2011 Sep;10(9):1173-82. doi: 10.1128/EC.05085-11. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

Coevolution of morphology and virulence in Candida species.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr., MC 7758, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


Many of the major human fungal pathogens are known to undergo morphological changes, which in certain cases are associated with virulence. Although there has been an intense research focus on morphology in fungi, very little is known about how morphology evolved in conjunction with a variety of other virulence properties. However, several recent important discoveries, primarily in Candida species, are beginning to shed light on this important area and answer many longstanding questions. In this minireview, we first provide a description of the major fungal morphologies, as well as the roles of morphology and morphology-associated gene expression in virulence. Next, focusing largely on Candida species, we examine the evolutionary relationships among specific morphological forms. Finally, drawing on recent findings, we begin to address the question of how specific morphological changes came to be associated with virulence of Candida species during evolution.

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