Gene flow contributes to diversification of the major fungal pathogen Candida albicans

Jeanne Ropars, Kerstin Voelz, Robin C May, Corinne Maufrais, Dorothée Diogo, Marina Marcet-Houben, Aurélie Perin, Natacha Sertour, Kevin Mosca, Emmanuelle Permal, Guillaume Laval, Christiane Bouchier, Laurence Ma, Katja Schwartz, Julie Poulain, Christophe Battail, Patrick Wincker, Andrew M Borman, Anuradha Chowdhary, Shangrong FanSoo Hyun Kim, Patrice Le Pape, Orazio Romeo, Jong Hee Shin, Toni Gabaldon, Gavin Sherlock, Marie-Elisabeth Bougnoux, Christophe d'Enfert

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Elucidating population structure and levels of genetic diversity and recombination is necessary to understand the evolution and adaptation of species. Candida albicans is the second most frequent agent of human fungal infections worldwide, causing high-mortality rates. Here we present the genomic sequences of 182 C. albicans isolates collected worldwide, including commensal isolates, as well as ones responsible for superficial and invasive infections, constituting the largest dataset to date for this major fungal pathogen. Although, C. albicans shows a predominantly clonal population structure, we find evidence of gene flow between previously known and newly identified genetic clusters, supporting the occurrence of (para)sexuality in nature. A highly clonal lineage, which experimentally shows reduced fitness, has undergone pseudogenization in genes required for virulence and morphogenesis, which may explain its niche restriction. Candida albicans thus takes advantage of both clonality and gene flow to diversify.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2253
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2018


  • Microbial genetics
  • Pathogens
  • Population genetics


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