Dermatophyte Comparative Database

Microsporum canis CBS 113480

Dermatophytes are one of the most common sources of human fungal infections. This comparative genomics project seeks to utilize the continuum of biological diversity to identify genomic features specific to chronic and acute human infections. Sequencing for the first stage of this project included five Dermatophytes with top priority to the most common fungal infection in the world, Trichophyton rubrum. The five prioritized species represent human specific (anthropophile), mammal specific (zoophile) and soil dwelling (geophile) taxa. The second stage of this project involves sequencing and analysis of 13 additional genomes, including additional strains of T. rubrum and related species. This project was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Project Information

Dermatophytes are one of the most common sources of human fungal infections. Annually they affect millions of individuals and are estimated to burden the United States healthcare system to the toll of $400 million each year for treatment alone. Examples of Dermatophytes include the fungi responsible for tinea pedis (athlete's foot) which has led to the immobilization of significant numbers of United States troops in recent history. Other species are the cause of tinea capitis, a scalp infection that is a significant pediatric health problem in urban settings. The Dermatophytes are communicable and can cause chronic infections in healthy, immune-competent individuals, and hence have adapted to evade and maintain control of the host immune response for extended periods of time. These adaptations must result from the co-evolution between Dermatophytes and their human and other mammal hosts - evolutionary trajectories that resulted in species that span a continuum of host specificities and mating competence.

This comparative genomics project seeks to utilize the continuum of biological diversity to identify genomic features specific to chronic and acute human infections. Sequencing for this project includes five Dermatophytes with top priority to the most common fungal infection in the world, Trichophyton rubrum. The five prioritized species represent human specific (anthropophile), mammal specific (zoophile) and soil dwelling (geophile) taxa. The sequencing goals of this project are to:

  • Establish reference sequences at 8-fold coverage for an anthropophile (T. rubrum), a zoophile (Microsporum canis), and a geophile (M. gypseum).
  • Generate 5-fold coverage of T. tonsurans and T. equinum, two sister taxa that represent a recent evolutionary divergence in host specificity between an anthropophile and zoophile.

This proposal is described in a NHGRI white paper and in a recent publication.

Collaborators

A group of fungal researchers was recruited to advise on various aspects of this project. The Steering Committee for the first project focusing on the 5 targeted genomes consisted of:

  • Susan M. Abdel-Rahman, The Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine, Kansas City, MO
  • Christina Cuomo, Broad Insitute of MIT & Harvard, Cambridge, MA
  • Yvonne Gräser, Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene (Charité), Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • Sarah Jane Gurr, University of Oxford
  • Matthew Henn, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, Cambridge, MA
  • Nilce M. Martinez-Rossi, Departamento de Genética, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
  • Brian G. Oliver, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, WA
  • Richard Summerbell, Sporometrics, Inc, Toronto, CA
  • Theodore C. White, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and University of Washington, Seattle, WA

The comparative analysis with Arthroderma benhamiae and Trichophyton verrucosum is coordinated with:

  • Axel Brakhage, Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knoell Institute

The collaborators for the second phase of this project involved in the analysis of the 13 genomes of additional strains of T. rubrum and other species include:

  • Christina Cuomo, Broad Insitute of MIT & Harvard, Cambridge, MA
  • Yvonne Gräser, Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene (Charité), Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany
  • Joseph Heitman, Duke University, Durham, NC
  • Nilce M. Martinez-Rossi, Departamento de Genética, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
  • Theodore C. White, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO

Photo Captions and Credits

The images on the home page are, from left to right:

  1. Macroconidia of Microsporum canis
  2. Culture of Microsporum gypseum.
  3. Typical cigar shaped macroconidia of Trichophyton rubrum granular type.
  4. Cultures of Trichophyton tonsurans.
  5. Nodular organs of Trichophyton equinum.

All images are provided courtesy of the University of Adelaide, Mycology Online.