Virulence, serotype, and molecular characteristics of environmental strains of Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii

K. J. Kwon-Chung, B. L. Wickes, L. Stockman, G. D. Roberts, D. Ellis, D. H. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Four strains of Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii originating from Eucalyptus camaldulensis, three from Australia and one from San Francisco, were tested for their serotype, virulence for mice, and a number of genetic and molecular characteristics. All were found to be serotype B and showed significantly higher virulence for mice than did the type strains of C. neoformans var. gattii and Filobasidiella neoformans var. bacillispora, which were obtained from human cryptococcosis cases. Electrophoretic karyotypes of the strains from Australia were identical, although they were collected from sites at least 15 to 500 km apart. The electrophoretic karyotype of the strain from San Francisco was the same as that of the Australian isolates except for the mobility of one chromosome. On the contrary, no two isolates of serotype B (of a total of 11) from clinical sources were the same, regardless of their geographic origin. Furthermore, none of the clinical isolates showed a chromosomal banding pattern identical to that of Eucalyptus-originated strains. The Eucalyptus-originated strains failed to form dikaryons when crossed with the tester strains of the two varieties of F. neoformans. Hybridization analysis with a nucleic acid probe (AccuProbe C. neoformans Culture Confirmation Test; Gen-Probe Inc., San Diego, Calif.), however, showed signals of equal intensity for clinical strains and the Eucalyptus-originated strains. Various fungi phylogenetically related to C. neoformans, including a phenol oxidase-positive strain of Cryptococcus laurentii obtained from E. camaldulensis, were negative in the nucleic acid hybridization test. These observations confirm that, in spite of karyotypic differences and the lack of dikaryon formation with the tester strains of F. neoformans, Eucalyptus-originated C. neoformans var. gattii is the same organism as those isolated from cases of human infection. Furthermore, the C. neoformans culture confirmation test using a commercial nucleic acid probe is specific for C. neoformans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1869-1874
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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