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Student Research: ‘Mutation Hotspot’ Allows Common Fungus to adapt to Different Host Environments

March 4, 2019

The fungus Candida albicans is found in the gastrointestinal tract of about half of healthy adults with little if any effect, yet it also causes an oft-fatal blood infection among patients with compromised immune systems, including those with HIV/AIDS. New research helps show how this fungus gets the flexibility to live in these vastly different environments. The researchers, including Shen-Huan Liang, a pathobiology Ph.D. student, found that patient samples of the fungus frequently lack one copy of a gene that serves as a vital master regulator. In the lab, these cells can regularly switch to having a different set of traits, or phenotype, by losing the other copy. Read more.