Malassezia ecology, pathophysiology, and treatment

Med Mycol. 2018 Apr 1;56(suppl_1):S10-S25. doi: 10.1093/mmy/myx134.


Malassezia are lipid dependent basidiomycetous yeasts that inhabit the skin and mucosa of humans and other warm-blooded animals, and are a major component of the skin microbiome. They occur as skin commensals, but are also associated with various skin disorders and bloodstream infections. The genus currently comprises 17 species and has recently been assigned its own class, Malasseziomycetes. Importantly, multiple Malassezia species and/or genotypes may cause unique or similar pathologies and vary in their antifungal susceptibility. In addition to culture-based approaches, culture-independent methods have added to our understanding of Malassezia presence and abundance and their relationship to pathogenicity. Moreover, these novel approaches have suggested a much wider-spread presence, including other human body parts and even other ecosystems, but their role in these arenas requires further clarification. With recent successful transformation and genetic engineering of Malassezia, the role of specific genes in pathogenesis can now be studied. We suggest that characterizing the metabolic impact of Malassezia communities rather than species identification is key in elucidation of pathophysiological associations. Finally, the increasing availability of genome sequences may provide key information aiding faster diagnostics, and understanding of the biochemical mechanisms for Malassezia skin adaptation and the design of future drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biodiversity
  • Dermatomycoses / drug therapy*
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology*
  • Dermatomycoses / physiopathology
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal / genetics
  • Ecology*
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Malassezia / classification
  • Malassezia / drug effects
  • Malassezia / genetics
  • Malassezia / physiology*


  • Antifungal Agents