Date: 09 Aug 2011

Pneumocystis Molecular Phylogeny: A Way to Understand Both Pneumocystosis Natural History and Host Taxonomy

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The genus Pneumocystis comprises numerous fungal pathogens dwelling in the lungs of a wide spectrum of mammalian species. Here, we show how new molecular methodologies, and in particular phylogenetics, have changed our views on the diversity and epidemiology of these fungal pathogens. Pneumocystis organisms have a marked host-species-related diversity, which is associated to close host specificity. High divergence among Pneumocystis species probably resulted from a prolonged process of coevolution with each mammal host and mostly associated with cospeciation like it was demonstrated in recent phylogenetic studies on primate-derived Pneumocystis. Therefore, Pneumocystis species or strains may be used as evolution markers, to reconstruct the phylogenetic history of mammal species, thus helping to elucidate controversial issues in mammalian taxonomy.