University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Biodiversity | Genetics and Genomics | Microbiology


Cryptococcosis is a potentially lethal disease of humans/animals caused by Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. Distinction between the two species is based on phenotypic and genotypic characteristics. Recently, it was proposed that C. neoformans be divided into two species and C. gattii into five species based on a phylogenetic analysis of 115 isolates. While this proposal adds to the knowledge about the genetic diversity and population structure of cryptococcosis agents, the published genotypes of 2,606 strains have already revealed more genetic diversity than is encompassed by seven species. Naming every clade as a separate species at this juncture will lead to continuing nomenclatural instability. In the absence of biological differences between clades and no consensus about how DNA sequence alone can delineate a species, we recommend using "Cryptococcus neoformans species complex" and "C. gattii species complex" as a practical intermediate step, rather than creating more species. This strategy recognizes genetic diversity without creating confusion.


Cryptococcosis, Cryptococcus gattii, Cryptococcus neoformans, clade, genetic diversity, new nomenclature, species complex

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2017 Kwon-Chung et al.

DOI of Published Version



mSphere. 2017 Jan 11;2(1). pii: e00357-16. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00357-16. Link to article on publisher's site


Full author list omitted for brevity. For full list of authors see article.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title


PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.