Parasexuality and ploidy change in Candida tropicalis

Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Dec;12(12):1629-40. doi: 10.1128/EC.00128-13. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


Candida species exhibit a variety of ploidy states and modes of sexual reproduction. Most species possess the requisite genes for sexual reproduction, recombination, and meiosis, yet only a few have been reported to undergo a complete sexual cycle including mating and sporulation. Candida albicans, the most studied Candida species and a prevalent human fungal pathogen, completes its sexual cycle via a parasexual process of concerted chromosome loss rather than a conventional meiosis. In this study, we examine ploidy changes in Candida tropicalis, a closely related species to C. albicans that was recently revealed to undergo sexual mating. C. tropicalis diploid cells mate to form tetraploid cells, and we show that these can be induced to undergo chromosome loss to regenerate diploid forms by growth on sorbose medium. The diploid products are themselves mating competent, thereby establishing a parasexual cycle in this species for the first time. Extended incubation (>120 generations) of C. tropicalis tetraploid cells under rich culture conditions also resulted in instability of the tetraploid form and a gradual reduction in ploidy back to the diploid state. The fitness levels of C. tropicalis diploid and tetraploid cells were compared, and diploid cells exhibited increased fitness relative to tetraploid cells in vitro, despite diploid and tetraploid cells having similar doubling times. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate distinct pathways by which a parasexual cycle can occur in C. tropicalis and indicate that nonmeiotic mechanisms drive ploidy changes in this prevalent human pathogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Candida tropicalis / cytology*
  • Candida tropicalis / genetics*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genes, Mating Type, Fungal
  • Ploidies*
  • Reproduction