Environmental Isolation of Candida auris from the Coastal Wetlands of Andaman Islands, India.mBio. 2021 Mar 16; 12(2)MBIO
Candida auris is a multidrug resistant pathogen that presents a serious global threat to human health. As C. auris is a newly emerged pathogen, several questions regarding its ecological niche remain unexplored. While species closely related to C. auris have been detected in different environmental habitats, little is known about the natural habitat(s) of C. auris Here, we explored the virgin habitats around the very isolated Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean for evidence of C. auris We sampled coastal wetlands, including rocky shores, sandy beaches, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps, around the Andaman group of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Union Territory, in India. Forty-eight samples of sediment soil and seawater were collected from eight sampling sites representing the heterogeneity of intertidal habitats across the east and west coast of South Andaman district. C. auris was isolated from two of the eight sampling sites, a salt marsh and a sandy beach. Interestingly, both multidrug-susceptible and multidrug-resistant C. auris isolates were found in the sample. Whole-genome sequencing analysis clustered the C. auris isolates into clade I, showing close similarity to other isolates from South Asia. Isolation of C. auris from the tropical coastal environment suggests its association with the marine ecosystem. The fact that viable C. auris was detected in the marine habitat confirms C. auris survival in harsh wetlands. However, the ecological significance of C. auris in salt marsh wetland and sandy beaches to human infections remains to be explored.IMPORTANCECandida auris is a recently emerged multidrug-resistant fungal pathogen capable of causing severe infections in hospitalized patients. Despite its recognition as a human pathogen a decade ago, so far the natural ecological niche(s) of C. auris remains enigmatic. A previous hypothesis suggested that C. auris might be native to wetlands, that its emergence as a human pathogen might have been linked to global warming effects on wetlands, and that its enrichment in that ecological niche was favored by the ability of C. auris for thermal tolerance and salinity tolerance. To understand the mystery of environmental niches of C. auris, we explored the coastal wetland habitat around the very isolated Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. C. auris was isolated from the virgin habitats of salt marsh area with no human activity and from a sandy beach. C. auris isolation from the marine wetlands suggests that prior to its recognition as a human pathogen, it existed as an environmental fungus.