The Biology of the Cryptococcus neoformans Species Complex

Xiaorong Lin and Joseph Heitman

Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710


Cryptococcus neoformans is a major cause of fungal meningoencephalitis in immunocompromised patients. Despiterecent advances in the genetics and molecular biology of C.neoformans, and improved techniques for molecular epidemiology, aspects of the ecology, population structure, and mode of reproduction of this environmental pathogen remain to be established. Application of recent insights in to the lifecycle of C.neoformans and its different ways of engaging in sexual reproduction under laboratory conditions has just begun to affect research on the ecology and epidemiology of this human pathogenic fungus. The melding of these disparate disciplines should yield rich dividends in our understanding of the evolution of microbial pathogens, providing insights relevant to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.