, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 83-91

Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii Isolated from the Excreta of Psittaciformes in a Southern Brazilian Zoological Garden

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Cryptococcus neoformans, a major pathogen in immunocompromised patients, is a ubiquitous free-living fungus that can be isolated from soils, avian excreta and plant material. To further study potential saprophytic sources of this yeast in the Southern Brazilian State Rio Grande do Sul, we analyzed fecal samples from 59 species of captive birds kept in cages at a local Zoological Garden, belonging to 12 different orders. Thirty-eight environmental isolates of C. neoformans were obtained only from Psittaciformes (Psittacidae, Cacatuidae and Psittacula). Their variety and serotype were determined, and the genetic structure of the isolates was analyzed by use of the simple repetitive microsatellite specific primer M13 and the minisatellite specific primer (GACA)4 as single primers in the PCR. The varieties were confirmed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Thirty-three isolates (87%) were from the var. grubii, serotype A, molecular type VNI and five (13%) were Cryptococcus gattii, serotype B, molecular type VGI. All the isolates were mating type α. Isolates were screened for some potential virulence factors. Quantitative urease production by the environmental isolates belonging to the C. gattii was similar to the values usually obtained for clinical ones.