Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Do Three Meals a Day Keep Fungi Away?

19.10.2009
The fact that they eat a lot – and often – may explain why most people and other mammals are protected from the majority of fungal pathogens, according to research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The research, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, showed that the elevated body temperature of mammals – the familiar 98.6° F or 37° C in people – is too high for the vast majority of potential fungal invaders to survive.

“Fungal strains undergo a major loss of ability to grow as we move to mammalian temperatures,” said Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor of microbiology & immunology at Einstein. Dr. Casadevall conducted the study in conjunction with Vincent A. Robert of the Utrecht, Netherlands-based Fungal Biodiversity Center, also known as Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures.

“Our study makes the argument that our warm temperatures may have evolved to protect us against fungal diseases,” said Dr. Casadevall. “And being warm-blooded and therefore largely resistant to fungal infections may help explain the dominance of mammals after the age of dinosaurs.”

There are roughly 1.5 million fungal species. Of these, only a few hundred are pathogenic to mammals. Fungal infections in people are often the result of an impaired immune function. By contrast, an estimated 270,000 fungal species are pathogenic to plants and 50,000 species infect insects. Frogs and other amphibians are prone to fungal pathogens, one of which, chytridiomycosis, is currently raging through frogs worldwide. Fungi are also important in the decomposition of plants.

In their study, the researchers investigated how 4,082 different fungal strains from the Utrecht collection grew in temperatures ranging from chilly – 4° C or 39° F – to desert hot – 45° C or 113° F. They found that nearly all of them grew well in temperatures up to 30° C. Beyond that, though, the number of successful species declined by 6 percent for every one degree centigrade increase. Most could not grow at mammalian temperatures. Those that did well in hotter conditions were often from warm-blooded sources.

Dr. Casadevall noted that the current study covered thousands of fungal strains and made use of a computerized database of the Utrecht collection. In the past, this type of research would have required retrieving this information manually, which Dr. Casadevall noted would have been a very time-consuming task.

“This was possible only because we could use bioinformatic tools to analyze the records in the culture collection,” he said. “There is no way to do a study like this without such technology given the enormous numbers of samples and the labor involved.”

The results of the study, he added, could help explain why mammals maintain a seemingly energy-wasteful lifestyle requiring a great deal of food. By contrast, reptiles need only eat once a day or even less often.

“The payoff, however, may be that mammals are much more resistant to soil and plant-borne fungal pathogens than are reptiles and other cold-blooded vertebrates,” said Dr. Casadevall.

This stronger immunity to fungi could explain why mammals rose to dominance after the dinosaur extinction event 65 million years ago. Indeed, the fungal bloom that occurred then may be one reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, a possibility outlined in a 2004 Fungal Genetics and Biology paper from Dr. Casadevall. (http://www.einstein.yu.edu/home/newsArchive.asp?id=63)

The research paper, “Vertebrate Endothermy Restricts Most Fungi as Potential Pathogens,” appeared in the October 13 online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. It is home to 2,775 faculty members, 625 M.D. students, 225 Ph.D. students, 125 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 380 postdoctoral research fellows. In 2008, Einstein received more than $130 million in support from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Through its extensive affiliation network involving eight hospitals and medical centers in the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island – which includes Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein – the College of Medicine runs one of the largest post-graduate medical training programs in the United States, offering approximately 150 residency programs to more than 2,500 physicians in training.

Deirdre Branley | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.einstein.yu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine

nachricht Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>