Genetic diversity of Candida albicans isolates recovered from hospital environments and patients with severe acquired brain injuries

Fabio Scordino, Letterio Giuffrè, Maria Rosa Felice, Maria Grazia Orlando, Maria Antonietta Medici, Francesca Marino Merlo, Orazio Romeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the epidemiology of pathogenic Candida species causing invasive human diseases is changing, Candida albicans still remains the most common cause of bloodstream infections worldwide. The propensity of this pathogen to cause infections is undoubtedly the result of its unique genetic plasticity that allow it to adapt and respond quickly to a myriad of changing conditions both in the host and in the environment. For this reason, we decided to investigate the genetic diversity of this important fungal pathogen in a particular category of patients with severe neurological deficits including the hospital environments where they are hospitalized. Genetic diversity of 21 C. albicans isolates recovered from blood, hands of healthcare workers and hospital environments was evaluated by using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) which revealed a high genetic heterogeneity with a set of 18 diploid sequence types (DSTs) recovered among 21 isolates investigated. Interestingly, 13 of these 18 MLST genotypes were completely new and added to the C. albicans MLST central database. Six eBURST clonal complexes (CC-1, CC-2, CC-6, CC-9, CC-27 and CC-42) and three singletons contained all DSTs found in this study. Among all the new DSTs identified, DST3388 was the most intriguing as this genotype was recovered from a typical C. albicans isolate clustering within the MLST-Clade 13, the most divergent evolutionary lineage within C. albicans population containing only isolates with unusual phenotypes originally known as Candida africana. In conclusion, the results of this study expand our understanding of the molecular epidemiology and global population structure of C. albicans suggesting that further studies on different categories of patients and hospital environments are needed to better understand how the population of this species adapts and evolves in heterogeneous hosts and changing environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104068
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Candida africana
  • Candida albicans
  • Fungal genotyping
  • Genetic diversity
  • Multilocus sequence typing (MLST)
  • Neurological patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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