Genotypic Characterization of Environmental Isolates of Cryptococcus gattii from Puerto Rico
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Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii are found in distinct environments with some overlap around different parts of the world. However, no systematic surveys of these two pathogens have been reported from Puerto Rico, a tropical island uniquely situated between mainland USA and countries in South America. We carried out an exhaustive environmental survey in southwestern Puerto Rico for pathogenic Cryptococcus species. Twenty-two presumptive isolates of C. gattii from cacti and tree detritus were characterized in detail by physiological and molecular methods and seventeen strains were confirmed as C. gattii. Cryptococcus gattii isolates were haploid and MAT strains. Sixteen out of seventeen C. gattii isolates belonged to VGII/AFLP6 genotype while one isolate was a VGIV/AFLP7 genotype. The results are significant as Puerto Rico strains are distinct from VGIII/AFLP5 strains reported from Southern California, but similar to C. gattii VGII/AFLP6 molecular type implicated in recent outbreaks of cryptococcosis in Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Canada, but different in its M13 fingerprinting, and a common genotype in South America.