Tag: Fungi

Fungal Disease Awareness Week: fungal pathogen data and literature at NCBI

Fungal Disease Awareness Week: fungal pathogen data and literature at NCBI

This post is in support of the CDC’s Fungal Disease Awareness Week — September 20-24, 2021.

The impact of fungal diseases on human health has often been neglected, but increased association of fungal infections with severe illness and death during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fungal diseases into the spotlight.

According to the CDC, the most common fungal co-infections in patients with COVID-19 include aspergillosis or invasive candidiasis including healthcare-associated infection from Candida auris.  Other reported diseases are mucormycosis, coccidioidomycosis and cryptococcosis. Aspergillosis is commonly caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, mucormycosis by Rhizopus species, coccidioidomycosis by Coccidioides immitis and C. posadasii and cryptococcosis by Cryptococcus neoformans.

This post explores several NCBI resources that have relevant information about the fungal pathogens implicated in these COVID-19 related illnesses.

Assembled genomes

Correctly identified and annotated genome assemblies are available for the fungal taxa implicated as co-infections in COVID-19 patients are summarized in table below.  These and  many other fungi are also available as curated RefSeq genome assemblies.

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Accessing the Hidden Kingdom: Fungal ITS Reference Sequences

This post is geared toward fungi researchers as well as RefSeq and BLAST users.

Fungi have unique characteristics that can make it difficult to identify and classify species based on morphology. To address these issues, Conrad Schoch, NCBI’s fungi taxonomist, and Barbara Robbertse, NCBI’s fungi RefSeq curator, in collaboration with outside mycology experts, are curating a set of fungal sequences from internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the nuclear ribosomal RNA genes. This set of standard DNA sequences for fungal taxa not only addresses these difficulties in identifying and classifying fungal species by morphology, but is also essential for analyzing environmental (metagenomics) sequencing studies. The curated ITS sequences, described in a recent article in Database (PMC Free Article), all have associated specimen data and, when possible, are taken from sequences from type materials, ensuring correct species identification and tracking of name changes. This article will show you how to access these ITS sequences and search them using the specialized Targeted Loci BLAST service.

The fungal ITS sequences are a RefSeq Targeted Loci BioProject (PRJNA177353). As you may know, a BioProject is a collection of biological data related to a single initiative; in this case, the goal is to collect and curate fungal sequences from targeted loci – specific molecular markers such as protein coding or ribosomal RNA genes used for phylogenetic analysis.

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