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Fungus deadly to AIDS patient found to grow on trees

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Ecoclimber, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. Ecoclimber

    Ecoclimber Senior Member

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    Fungus deadly to AIDS patient found to grow on trees
    Science Daily

    Date: August 22, 2014
    Source: Duke University

    Summary:
    Researchers have pinpointed the environmental source of fungal infections that have been sickening HIV/AIDS patients in Southern California for decades. It literally grows on trees. The discovery is based on the science project of a 13-year-old girl, who spent the summer gathering soil and tree samples from areas around Los Angeles hardest hit by infections of the fungus named Cryptococcus gattii (CRIP-to-cock-us GAT-ee-eye).

    [​IMG]
    This false-color electron microscope image catches the fungus Cryptococcus gattii in the act of producing its infectious spores. The club-shaped blue structure is a reproductive organ called the basidium, which projects off the fungus body like an apple off a tree. The spores are colored yellow, and are like seeds that can give rise to a new organism.
    Credit: Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, Duke University

    Researchers have pinpointed the environmental source of fungal infections that have been sickening HIV/AIDS patients in Southern California for decades. It literally grows on trees.

    The discovery is based on the science project of a 13-year-old girl, who spent the summer gathering soil and tree samples from areas around Los Angeles hardest hit by infections of the fungus named Cryptococcus gattii (CRIP-to-cock-us GAT-ee-eye).

    Cryptococcus, which encompasses a number of species including C. gattii, causes life-threatening infections of the lungs and brain and is responsible for one third of all AIDS-related deaths.

    The study, which appears Aug. 21 in PLOS Pathogens, found strong genetic evidence that three tree species -- Canary Island pine, Pohutukawa and American sweetgum -- can serve as environmental hosts and sources of these human infections.

    "Just as people who travel to South America are told to be careful about drinking the water, people who visit other areas like California, the Pacific Northwest and Oregon need to be aware that they are at risk for developing a fungal infection, especially if their immune system is compromised," said Deborah J. Springer, Ph.D., lead study author and postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at Duke University School of Medicine.

    A few years ago, Duke's chairman of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Joseph Heitman M.D., was contacted by longtime collaborator and UCLA infectious disease specialist Scott Filler, M.D., whose daughter Elan was looking for a project to work on during her summer break. They decided it would be fun to send her out in search of fungi living in the greater Los Angeles area.

    The student sampled 109 swabs of more than 30 tree species and 58 soil samples, grew and isolated the Cryptococcus fungus, and then sent those specimens to Springer at Duke. Springer DNA-sequenced the samples from California and compared the sequences to those obtained from HIV/AIDS patients with C. gattii infections.

    She was surprised to find that specimens from three of the tree species were genetically almost indistinguishable from the patient specimens.

    The researchers also found that the C. gattii isolated from the environment were fertile, reproducing either by sexual or asexual reproduction.

    "That finding is important for long-term prevalence in the environment, because this fungal pathogen will be able to grow, reproduce, disperse spores, and serve as a source of ongoing infections," Springer said
    Journal Reference:
    1. Deborah J. Springer, R. Blake Billmyre, Elan E. Filler, Kerstin Voelz, Rhiannon Pursall, Piotr A. Mieczkowski, Robert A. Larsen, Fred S. Dietrich, Robin C. May, Scott G. Filler, Joseph Heitman. Cryptococcus gattii VGIII Isolates Causing Infections in HIV/AIDS Patients in Southern California: Identification of the Local Environmental Source as Arboreal. PLoS Pathogens, 2014; 10 (8): e1004285 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004285
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
    cigana, Jarod, merylg and 8 others like this.
  2. Ren

    Ren .

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    California + fungus reminded me of another recent article (emphasis added):


    "Lawsuits over Valley fever pile up against California's prison system" (3 August 2014)
    Full text: www.sacbee.com/2014/08/03/6601599/lawsuits-over-valley-fever-pile.html#storylink=cpy



    Also, from CDC: Valley fever = "Silent epidemic"
    http://www.cdc.gov/Features/ValleyFever/
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  3. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I guess you'd want to avoid tree hugging then if you are HIV patient...
     
    Ren likes this.
  4. Jarod

    Jarod Senior Member

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    planet earth
    Here is a good climate "zone" map that shows where the canary island pine are able to "grow" in the US.

    Here is where the american sweetgum is able to grow.

    The maps show where the climate zones where the trees are able to grow. I don't think the whole us is covered by sweetgum trees though. Just my backyard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
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  5. Ren

    Ren .

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    This may be fungal-info overload, but I found it interesting so... here are a couple of other Plos One articles on Cryptococcus gattii, also including varied maps - international too - and a breakdown of C. gattii's four genotypes. (I hope - but am not sure - I stated that correctly.)


    "Cryptococcus gattii in the United States: Genotypic Diversity of Human and Veterinary Isolates"
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0074737

    "Ancient Dispersal of the Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus gattii from the Amazon Rainforest"
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0071148


    See also http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/cryptococcosis-gattii/risk-prevention.html. The CDC names (PNW areas) British Columbia and Vancouver Island too. "Anyone can get a C. gattii infection, even people who are otherwise healthy. People who have weakened immune systems are at increased risk."

    And finally, "Autochthonous and Dormant Cryptococcuss gattii Infections in Europe."
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3471617/ "...The results indicated that reactivation of dormant C. Gattii infections can occurr many years after the infectious agent was acquired elsewhere."
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  6. Jarod

    Jarod Senior Member

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    planet earth
    NOTE: the mycometrics "ERMI" test I took did NOT pick up c-ghatti. (If I'm reading it correctly)


    I'm currently living in the south, and the only people thriving down here are the super high testosterone types. Probably a darwinian requirment for detoxing all the fungus in the environment.

    The south is loaded with those gum tress.

    Also got about every weird bug on the planet here. I think I saw a bee almost the size of a hummingbird the other day. Better tie my dog down so a bee/bird doesn't fly off with my dog.

    EDIT: Probably having chlamydia pneumonia doesn't help the environmental situation either.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  7. Ren

    Ren .

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    ???
     
  8. Jarod

    Jarod Senior Member

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    planet earth
    HI @Ren

    I kind of went off on a tangent, but allow me to try and explain.

    I Live in the deep south USA. There is a lot of really high testosterone people here. Men with really deep voices, Lifted 4 x 4 trucks. A few Strong, tough, and hardy people who thrive here in this tough environment.

    I've been close to remission before, and the main thing that happened was my testosterone gradually raised on it's own. With that comes all types of benefits, but the main thing is being able to think, and also being able to heal. With healing at some point all kinds of crap stored in my body suddenly come pouring out.

    I think a paper came up somewhere recently that suggested testosterone helped with detox?(not that I can read the science)

    However here is the rub. (This is going from very vague memory), I think Mikovitz used some type of androgen to stimulate whatever she found for better detection during the tests.

    I would speculate our bodies keep testosterone low in male ME/CFS patients as some sort of compensating mechanism or result of the disease.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014

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