In order to elucidate the distribution of Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii in the Mediterranean basin, an extensive environmental survey was carried out during 2012-15. A total of 302 sites located in 12 countries were sampled, 6436 samples from 3765 trees were collected, and 5% of trees were found to be colonized by cryptococcal yeasts. Cryptococcus neoformans was isolated from 177 trees and C. gattii from 13. Cryptococcus neoformans colonized 27% of Ceratonia, 10% of Olea, Platanus and Prunus trees and a lower percentage of other tree genera. The 13 C. gattii isolates were collected from five Eucalyptus, four Ceratonia, two Pinus, and two Olea trees. C. neoformans was distributed all around the Mediterranean basin, whereas C. gattii was isolated in Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain, in agreement with previous findings from both clinical and environmental sources. Among C. neoformans isolates VNI was the prevalent molecular type but VNII, VNIV and VNIII hybrid strains were also isolated. With the exception of a single VGIV isolate, all C. gattii isolates were VGI. The results confirmed the presence of both Cryptococcus species in the Mediterranean environment, and showed that both carob and olive trees represent animportant niche for these yeasts.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in FEMS Yeast Research following peer review. The version of record Massimo Cogliati, Roberta D'Amicis, Alberto Zani, Maria Teresa Montagna, Giuseppina Caggiano, Osvalda De Giglio, Stella Balbino, Antonella De Donno, Francesca Serio, Serdar Susever, Cagri Ergin, Aristea Velegraki, Mohamed S. Ellabib, Simona Nardoni, Cristina Macci, Salvatore Oliveri, Laura Trovato, Ludovico Dipineto, Volker Rickerts, Ilka McCormick-Smith, Sevim Akcaglar, Okan Tore, Emilija Mlinaric-Missoni, Sebastien Bertout, Michele Mallié, Maria da Luz Martins, Ana C.F. Vencà, Maria L. Vieira, Ana C. Sampaio, Cheila Pereira, Giuseppe Criseo, Orazio Romeo, Stéphane Ranque, Mohammed H. Y. Al-Yasiri, Meltem Kaya, Nilgun Cerikcioglu, Anna Marchese, Luigi Vezzulli, Macit Ilkit, Marie Desnos-Ollivier, Vincenzo Pasquale, Maya Korem, Itzhack Polacheck, Antonio Scopa, Wieland Meyer, Kennio Ferreira-Paim, Ferry Hagen, Bart Theelen, Teun Boekhout, Shawn R. Lockhart, Kathrin Tintelnot, Anna Maria Tortorano, Françoise Dromer, Ashok Varma, Kyung J. Kwon-Chung, Joäo Inácio, Beatriz Alonso, Maria F. Colom; Environmental distribution of Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii around the Mediterranean basin. FEMS Yeast Res 2016; 16 (4): fow045, is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/femsyr/fow045