, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 282-290

Isolation and Characterization of Cryptococcus neoformans Varieties Recovered from Natural Sources in Bogotá, Colombia, and Study of Ecological Conditions in the Area

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Cryptococcus neoformans, the etiological agent of cryptococcosis, has been associated with avian droppings and certain trees in different countries, including Colombia. C neoformans environmental isolates were obtained in urban areas in Bogotá, Colombia, and the strains recovered were phenotypically characterized. Attempts to determine the ecological conditions (micro- and macroclimatic) possibly related to their habitat were also undertaken. Four hundred and eighty samples from bark, soil around trunk bases, and detritus inside hollows of 32 trees were collected in three urban areas during a 5-month period, as well as 89 avian droppings samples from different places. Of plant samples, 6.7% collected from nine tree species yielded C. neoformans var. gattii, serotype B strains in 99% of the cases, and C. neoformans var. grubii, serotype A in 1%. The yeast was more frequently recovered from bark than from soil or detritus inside hollows, and from trees with hollows or rotted wood rather than from trees in which birds nest. C. neoformans was present with higher frequency and density in the rainy season than in the dry season; we found that slightly higher temperature and humidity values of the microhabitat, as compared to those of the environment, favored fungal occurrence, but the phenological state of the tree did not. Of dropping samples, 7.9% yielded C. neoformans strains, all of them C. neoformans var. grubii, serotype A. The yeast was obtained more frequently from dry droppings than from moist ones, but neither the sunlight exposure nor the site of collection of samples was correlated with this occurrence. Population density was significantly higher in droppings than in tree samples. Under laboratory conditions, isolates of different serotype showed similar capsular sizes. Water content and pH ranges were wide and did not show any significant difference between positive and negative samples.