Conclusions

P. marneffei is a member of a group of fungal pathogens which exhibit dimorphic switching, yet evolutionarily it is distinct from most of this group of organisms. It has a robust hyphal phase which can produce complex conidiophores, containing multiple cell types, that culminate in the production of infectious conidia at 25°C. At 37°C it produces the pathogenic yeast cell type which, unlike most other dimorphic pathogens, divides by fission. Consequently, it is a system which, when compared to the other dimorphic fungi, can provide important insights into the mechanism which underlie dimorphic switching, the ways in which dimorphic switching has evolved and the mechanisms which are central to pathogenicity. Understanding the biology of this emergent pathogen is in the early stages. Much work is required to understand the epidemiology and mode of transmission, the host-pathogen interactions and the molecular mechanisms controlling the morphogenetic programmes. The extensive set of genetic tools developed in this system make the molecular dissection of this intriguing pathogen highly amenable.

Acknowledgements The authors wish to acknowledge the current and past members of the laboratory for their contributions. The research was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to Alex Andrianopoulos. David Cánovas is a Marie Curie OIF fellow. Alex Andrianopoulos is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar.

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