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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Mar;40(3):1031-6.

Environmental occurrence of Madurella mycetomatis, the major agent of human eumycetoma in Sudan.

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Institute for Endemic Diseases and Faculty of Medical Laboratory Sciences, University of Khartoum, Khartoum, Sudan.


Madurella mycetomatis is the main causative agent of human eumycetoma, a severe debilitating disease endemic in Sudan. It has been suggested that eumycetoma has a soil-borne or thorn prick-mediated origin. For this reason, efforts were undertaken to culture M. mycetomatis from soil samples (n = 43) and thorn collections (n = 35) derived from areas in which it is endemic. However, ribosomal sequencing data revealed that the black fungi obtained all belonged to other fungal species. In addition, we performed PCR-mediated detection followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis for the identification of M. mycetomatis DNA from the environmental samples as well as biopsies from patients with mycetoma. In the case of the Sudanese soil samples, 17 out of 74 (23%) samples were positive for M. mycetomatis DNA. Among the thorn collections, 1 out of 22 (5%) was positive in the PCR. All PCR RFLP patterns clearly indicated the presence of M. mycetomatis. In contrast, 15 Dutch and English control soil samples were all negative. Clinically and environmentally obtained fungal PCR products share the same PCR RFLP patterns, suggesting identity, at least at the species level. These observations support the hypothesis that eumycetoma is primarily environmentally acquired and suggest that M. mycetomatis needs special conditions for growth, as direct isolation from the environment seems to be impossible.

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