Yeast commonly used in food industry could seed drug-resistant infections, a new genetic study discovers. Scientists have raised concern over the findings.
Both bacteria and fungi are becoming resistant to antibiotics and unresponsive to antifungals respectively. These drug-resistant infections can increase severe risk in people with a reduced immune system.
Currently, Candida species are the most common causes of fungal infection.
Candida has five pathogenic species: Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida tropicalis, Candida parapsilosis, and Candida krusei.
Candida krusei has natural resistance to fluconazole a standard antifungal medication.
In contrast, the fungus Pichia kudriavzevii – the teleomorph of the Candida krusei – is considered to be safe. Food manufacture has been used it as part of the fermentation process of products such as cassava, maize beverages, and fermented milk.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “generally recognized it as safe.”
Now, a team of researchers from University College Dublin in Ireland wanted to study both Candida krusei’s and Pichia kudriavzevii’s DNA in detail.
Their findings were published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
They found that of the two species are one and the same with a 99.6 percent match of their DNA. In addition, they also discovered that both species P. kudriavzevii and C. krusei showed similar resistance to antifungal agents.
The surprising findings noted that P. kudriavzevii has the potential to cause serious diseases in humans
“If I suggested using drug-resistant Candida albicans to make food, I would be stopped immediately. But with drug-resistant Candida krusei, nobody bats an eyelid because the food makers use a different name for it,” principal investigator Prof. Kenneth Wolfe explained.
Marry Saunders is a seasoned journalist with nearly a decade under her belt. While studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Marry found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Roswell Gazette, Marry mostly covers human interest stories.