'Ready made' virulence and 'dual use' virulence factors in pathogenic environmental fungi - The Cryptococcus neoformans paradigm

Arturo Casadevall, Judith N. Steenbergen, Joshua D. Nosanchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

128 Scopus citations


Environmental pathogenic fungi present a paradox in that they are virulent in animals without requiring animal hosts for replication or survival, a phenomenon we call 'ready-made' virulence. In the human pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, the capacity for virulence in animals may originate from environmental selective pressures imposed by such organisms as amoeboid and nematode predators. Many C. neoformans virulence factors appear to have 'dual use' capabilities that confer survival advantages in both animal hosts and in the environment. The findings with C. neoformans may provide a paradigm for understanding the origin and maintenance of virulence in other pathogenic environmental fungi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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