A pan-cancer mycobiome analysis reveals fungal involvement in gastrointestinal and lung tumors

Cell. 2022 Sep 29;185(20):3807-3822.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.09.015.


Fungal microorganisms (mycobiota) comprise a small but immunoreactive component of the human microbiome, yet little is known about their role in human cancers. Pan-cancer analysis of multiple body sites revealed tumor-associated mycobiomes at up to 1 fungal cell per 104 tumor cells. In lung cancer, Blastomyces was associated with tumor tissues. In stomach cancers, high rates of Candida were linked to the expression of pro-inflammatory immune pathways, while in colon cancers Candida was predictive of metastatic disease and attenuated cellular adhesions. Across multiple GI sites, several Candida species were enriched in tumor samples and tumor-associated Candida DNA was predictive of decreased survival. The presence of Candida in human GI tumors was confirmed by external ITS sequencing of tumor samples and by culture-dependent analysis in an independent cohort. These data implicate the mycobiota in the pathogenesis of GI cancers and suggest that tumor-associated fungal DNA may serve as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers.

Keywords: Blastomyces; Candida; Malassezia; cancer; colon cancer; lung cancer; mycobiome; stomach cancer; trans-kingdom interactions; tumor-associated fungi.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Candida / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Mycobiome*


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Fungal