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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01891

Geographical and ethnic differences influence culturable commensal yeast diversity on healthy skin

 Cheryl K. Leong1*,  Bettina Schmid2, Min Jet Toi1, antony irudayaswamy1,  Joleen Goh1, Philipp P. Bosshard2,  Martin Glatz2 and  Thomas Dawson1*
  • 1Institute of Medical Biology (A*STAR), Singapore
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland

Commensal fungi such as Malassezia, Candida and Rhodotorula are common on healthy skin but have also been associated with opportunistic invasive and superficial infections. Studies on skin microbial community characterization have been extensively performed worldwide, with a focus on the 16S bacterial community. These studies have focused on geographically distinct or targeted cohorts with variable reported species distributions of commensal yeast species. To determine the effects of extrinsic environmental factors such as geography, climate, and ethnicity on detected healthy skin commensal yeast diversity, we compared cohorts from Singapore and Zurich, Switzerland, representative of two geographically and climatically distinct regions comprising multi-ethnic (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Caucasian) and predominantly white Caucasian cohorts, respectively using identical skin sampling and culture methods. We chose to use a culture-based approach as cultures isolated from patients are still required for studies of pathogenicity and antifungal susceptibility. Detection of yeast species by culture-dependent and independent sequencing based methods suggest healthy skin diversity reflects a species distribution representative of the geography, climate and ethnic background of their local populations. Culture success and species diversity was also found to be dependent on climate, with warm tropical climates favouring high positive culture rates and greater species diversity. Multilocus sequence typing data suggests some strains are geographically distinct and may be used to segregate potential disease causing commensals. For accurate collection and characterization of skin microbial communities, it remains recommended to employ a combination of culture-dependent and sequence-based culture-independent methods. Characterization of healthy mycobiomes in geographically distinct local populations will be useful in defining the role of commensal fungi in health and disease.

Keywords: Skin, Commensal yeast, Malassezia, Geography, ethnicity, Fungi

Received: 23 Apr 2019; Accepted: 31 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Gustavo H. Goldman, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Reviewed by:

Monica Di Paola, University of Florence, Italy
Teun Boekhout, Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2019 Leong, Schmid, Toi, irudayaswamy, Goh, Bosshard, Glatz and Dawson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Cheryl K. Leong, Institute of Medical Biology (A*STAR), Singapore, Singapore,
Dr. Thomas Dawson, Institute of Medical Biology (A*STAR), Singapore, Singapore,