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Open Access Research article

Genotypic and phenotypic properties of Candida parapsilosis sensu strictu strains isolated from different geographic regions and body sites

Arianna Tavanti1*, Lambert AM Hensgens1, Selene Mogavero1, László Majoros3, Sonia Senesi1 and Mario Campa2

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Biologia, Sezione di Genetica, Unità di Microbiologia, Università di Pisa, Via San Zeno 37, 56127 Pisa, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Patologia Sperimentale, Biotecnologie Mediche, Infettivologia ed Epidemiologia, Università di Pisa, Via San Zeno 37, 56127 Pisa, Italy

3 Department of Medical Microbiology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Hungary

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:203  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-203

Published: 28 July 2010

Abstract

Background

Candida parapsilosis is known to show limited genetic variability, despite different karyotypes and phenotypes have been described. To further investigate this aspect, a collection of 62 sensu strictu C. parapsilosis independent isolates from 4 geographic regions (Italy, n = 19; New Zealand, n = 15; Argentina, n = 14; and Hungary, n = 14) and different body sites (superficial and deep seated) were analysed for their genetic and phenotypic traits. Amplification fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis was used to confirm species identification and to evaluate intraspecific genetic variability. Phenotypic characterisation included clinically relevant traits, such as drug susceptibility, in vitro biofilm formation and aspartyl protease secretion.

Results

AFLP genotyping showed little variation among isolates, when the presence/absence of bands was considered. However, when AFLP profiles were compared by relative intensity for each fragment, a significant level of variation and geographical clustering was observed. All isolates were found to be susceptible to commonly used antifungals, although a reduced susceptibility to echinocandins was observed in all isolates. C. parapsilosis isolates from different geographic origins varied in the number of biofilm producers, with a higher prevalence of producers isolated in Hungary and Argentina. The frequency of secreted proteinase producers also varied in isolates obtained from different areas, with a higher number of proteinase producers found in Italy and New Zealand. Interestingly, biofilm production and proteinase secretion were negatively correlated. This finding could be explained by assuming that proteinase activity plays a role in detachment and release from a mature biofilm, via degradation of C. parapsilosis adhesins and/or extracellular matrix components, as observed for other microorganisms.

Conclusions

The low number of polymorphic AFLP bands (18 out of 80) obtained for C. parapsilosis isolates is in agreement with the limited sequence variability described for this species. However, when band intensity was included in the analysis, geographical clustering was observed. Expression of virulence factors varied among strains isolated from different geographical regions, with biofilm and proteinase producers more frequently isolated from Hungary and Italy, respectively.