Differentiation of Three Biotypes of Malassezia Species on Human Normal Skin. Correspondence With M. Globosa, M. Sympodialis and M. Restricta

Mycopathologia. 1999;145(2):69-74. doi: 10.1023/a:1007017917230.


One hundred and twenty lipid dependent Malassezia spp. isolates were obtained from the clinically normal skin of 38 healthy adult volunteers by swabbing three different body sites (back, chest and scalp). Ninety-six percent of these strains could be grouped into three biotypes on the basis of microscopic, cultural, metabolic and biochemical (catalase, esculin and lipase (C-14)) characteristics. The differential features were simple to determine and easily reproduced. Moreover, the three biotypes were referable to the species M. globosa (biotype 1), M. sympodialis (biotype 2) and M. restricta (biotype 3). Based on their microscopic features, cultural properties and body site locations, we suggest that biotype 1 /M. globosa corresponds to the description of Pityrosporum orbiculare (round yeast cells with a narrow base, very frequently found on the upper trunk), and biotype 3/M. restricta corresponds to the concept of P. ovale (oval yeast cells with a broad budding base, located mainly on the scalp). Pleomorphic biotype 2/M. sympodialis, most frequently found in the back, does not clearly fit into any of the Pityrosporum species.

MeSH terms

  • Azure Stains / chemistry
  • Back / microbiology
  • Catalase / analysis
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology
  • Dermatomycoses / pathology*
  • Esculin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lipase / analysis
  • Malassezia / classification*
  • Malassezia / growth & development
  • Malassezia / isolation & purification
  • Scalp / microbiology
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Thorax / microbiology


  • Azure Stains
  • Esculin
  • Catalase
  • Lipase