Candida parapsilosis species complex comprises three important pathogenic species: Candida parapsilosis sensu stricto, Candida orthopsilosis and Candida metapsilosis. The majority of C. orthopsilosis and all C. metapsilosis isolates sequenced thus far are hybrids, and most of the parental lineages remain unidentified. This led to the hypothesis that hybrids with pathogenic potential were formed by the hybridization of non-pathogenic lineages that thrive in the environment. In a search for the missing hybrid parentals, and aiming to get a better understanding of the evolution of the species complex, we sequenced, assembled and analysed the genome of five close relatives isolated from the environment: Candida jiufengensis, Candida pseudojiufengensis, Candida oxycetoniae, Candida margitis and Candida theae. We found that the linear conformation of mitochondrial genomes in Candida species emerged multiple times independently. Furthermore, our analyses discarded the possible involvement of these species in the mentioned hybridizations, but identified C. theae as an additional hybrid in the species complex. Importantly, C. theae was recently associated with a case of infection, and we also uncovered the hybrid nature of this clinical isolate. Altogether, our results reinforce the hypothesis that hybridization is widespread among Candida species, and potentially contributes to the emergence of lineages with opportunistic pathogenic behaviour.
Keywords: Candida parapsilosis clade; Candida yeast hybrids; genome sequence; hydroxyaromatic compounds; linear mitochondrial genome.
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.