Ascomycetes yeasts: The hidden part of human microbiome

WIREs Mech Dis. 2024 May-Jun;16(3):e1641. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.1641. Epub 2024 Jan 16.


The fungal component of the microbiota, the mycobiota, has been neglected for a long time due to its poor richness compared to bacteria. Limitations in fungal detection and taxonomic identification arise from using metagenomic approaches, often borrowed from bacteriome analyses. However, the relatively recent discoveries of the ability of fungi to modulate the host immune response and their involvement in human diseases have made mycobiota a fundamental component of the microbial communities inhabiting the human host, deserving some consideration in host-microbe interaction studies and in metagenomics. Here, we reviewed recent data on the identification of yeasts of the Ascomycota phylum across human body districts, focusing on the most representative genera, that is, Saccharomyces and Candida. Then, we explored the key factors involved in shaping the human mycobiota across the lifespan, ranging from host genetics to environment, diet, and lifestyle habits. Finally, we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of culture-dependent and independent methods for mycobiota characterization. Overall, there is still room for some improvements, especially regarding fungal-specific methodological approaches and bioinformatics challenges, which are still critical steps in mycobiota analysis, and to advance our knowledge on the role of the gut mycobiota in human health and disease. This article is categorized under: Immune System Diseases > Genetics/Genomics/Epigenetics Immune System Diseases > Environmental Factors Infectious Diseases > Environmental Factors.

Keywords: Candida; Saccharomyces; metagenomics; mycobiota; yeast.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota* / genetics
  • Candida / genetics
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Microbiota
  • Mycobiome / genetics