Molecular markers reveal that population structure of the human pathogen Candida albicans exhibits both clonality and recombination.
The life history of Candida albicans presents an enigma: this species is thought to be exclusively asexual, yet strains show extensive phenotypic variation. To address the population genetics of C. albicans, we developed a genetic typing method for codominant single-locus markers by screening randomly amplified DNA for single-strand conformation polymorphisms. DNA fragments amplified by arbitrary primers were initially screened for single-strand conformation polymorphisms and later sequenced using locus-specific primers. A total of 12 single base mutations and insertions were detected from six out of eight PCR fragments. Patterns of sequence-level polymorphism observed for individual strains detected considerable heterozygosity at the DNA sequence level, supporting the view that most C. albicans strains are diploid. Population genetic analyses of 52 natural isolates from Duke University Medical Center provide evidence for both clonality and recombination in C. albicans. Evidence for clonality is supported by the presence of several overrepresented genotypes, as well as by deviation of genotypic frequencies from random (Hardy-Weinberg) expectations. However, tests for nonrandom association of alleles across loci reveal less evidence for linkage disequilibrium than expected for strictly clonal populations. Although C. albicans populations are primarily clonal, evidence for recombination suggests that sexual reproduction or some other form of genetic exchange occurs in this species.
Gräser, Y; Volovsek, M; Arrington, J; Schönian, G; Presber, W; Mitchell, TG; Vilgalys, R
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