Blastomyces Genome Project

Project Information

Blastomyces dermatitidis is the causative agent of blastomycosis, a geographically widespread systemic mycosis of humans and other mammals. Although blastomycosis occurs worldwide, it is most common in North America and is endemic to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valley regions. After mild infection, blastomycosis can undergo a prolonged latent period and reactivate in individuals with compromised immune systems, as is the case in AIDS patients. Untreated acute blastomycosis frequently progresses to severe pulmonary disease, with potential for dissemination to other organs, skin and bone.

This project aims to examine diversity between the four Blastomyces strains and determine the common and unique features among the larger group of dimorphic fungal pathogens.We have sequenced four strains of Blastomyces. The SLH-14081 strain is a highly virulent, clinical isolate that can cause disease in immunocompetent people; this strain was recently classified as Blastomyces gilchristii. Comparative analysis between the SLH-14081 strain and an avirulent strain, ER-3, provides the opportunity to identify genomic attributes unique to the virulent SLH-14081 strain and therefore, important in blastomycosis. In addition to ER-3, we have sequenced two additional strains of B. dermatitidis: ATCC18188, a representative MAT 'a' isolate, and ATCC26199 (in collaboration with the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center), a commonly used laboratory isolate.  The comparative Blastomyces project is funded by NIAID.

Primary collaborators

Bruce Klein, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Gregory Gauthier, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Joseph Heitman, Duke University Medical Center
Wenjun Li, Duke University Medical Center


Klein BS, Tebbets B Dimorphism and virulence in fungi. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2007 Aug;10(4):314-9. Epub 2007 Aug 23. Review
McCullough MJ et al. Molecular epidemiology of Blastomyces dermatitidis. Clin Infect Dis. 2000, 30(2):328-35
Hogan LH, Klein BS, Levitz SM. Virulence factors of medically important fungi. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1996 Oct;9(4):469-88. Review.

Photo captions and credits

The images on the top of this page are (from left to right):

Direct FA stain revealing the histopathology of lung tissue blastomycosis due to the organism Blastomyces dermatitidis.
Photo: CDC/Dr. William Kaplan
This micrograph shows histopathologic changes that reveal the presence of the fungal agent Blastomyces dermatitidis.
Photo: CDC/Dr. Libero Ajello
This is a photomicrograph of Blastomyces dermatitidis using a cotton blue staining technique.
Photo: CDC/Dr. Leanor Haley
Plate culture of Blastomyces dermatitidis, strain A-507. Mycelial phase.
Photo: CDC/ Dr. Libero Ajello
Histopathology of blastomycosis. Yeast cell of Blastomyces dermatitidis undergoing broad-base budding. Methenamine silver stain. African case.
Photo: CDC/ Dr. Libero Ajello

Data access and Citation

The genome sequences of Blastomyces are available in Genbank under the following bioprojects: Blastomyces dermatitidis ATCC18188: PRJNA39265, Blastomyces dermatitidis ATCC26199: PRJNA39263, Blastomyces dermatitidis SLH14081: PRJNA29173 and Blastomyces dermatitidis ER-3: PRJNA29171. Transcriptome sequencing of ATCC 26189 was submitted under accession PRJNA185598.. Data files formerly available on this website can be accessed on our fungal ftp site.

For use of this data, please cite: Munoz, Gauthier, Desjardins, et al. 2015. "The dynamic genome and transcriptome of the human fungal pathogen Blastomyces and close relative Emmonsia." PLoS Genetics 11 (10): e1005493.