Vertebrate endothermy restricts most fungi as potential pathogens

J Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 15;200(10):1623-6. doi: 10.1086/644642.


The paucity of fungal diseases in mammals relative to insects, amphibians, and plants is puzzling. We analyzed the thermal tolerance of 4802 fungal strains from 144 genera and found that most cannot grow at mammalian temperatures. Fungi from insects and mammals had greater thermal tolerances than did isolates from soils and plants. Every 1 degrees C increase in the 30 degrees C-40 degrees C range excluded an additional 6% of fungal isolates, implying that fever could significantly increase the thermal exclusion zone. Mammalian endothermy and homeothermy are potent nonspecific defenses against most fungi that could have provided a strong evolutionary survival advantage against fungal diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Fungi / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / microbiology
  • Mycoses*
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Temperature*