The observation that some aspects of amoeba-fungal interactions resemble animal phagocytic cell-fungal interactions, together with the finding that amoeba passage can enhance the virulence of some pathogenic fungi, has stimulated interest in the amoeba as a model system for the study of fungal virulence. Amoeba provide a relatively easy and cheap model system where multiple variables can be controlled for the study of fungi-protozoal (amoeba) interactions. Consequently, there have been significant efforts to study fungal–amoeba interactions in the laboratory, which have already provided new insights into the origin of fungal virulence as well as suggested new avenues for experimentation. In this essay we review the available literature, which highlights the varied nature of amoeba-fungal interactions and suggests some unsolved questions that are potential areas for future investigation. Overall, results from multiple independent groups support the ‘amoeboid predator–fungal animal virulence hypothesis’, which posits that fungal cell predation by amoeba can select for traits that also function during animal infection to promote their survival and thus contribute to virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science
- Microbiology (medical)