[MARMAM] Right whale skin and fungi

Desray Reeb dreeblet at gmail.com
Sun Nov 14 14:31:20 PST 2010

Dear Marmamers,

These authors are pleased to announce the publication of two papers:

Reeb, D., Best, P.B., Botha, A., Cloete, K.J., Thornton, M. and Mouton, M.
2010. Fungi associated with the skin of a southern right whale (*Eubalaena
australis*) from South Africa. Mycology. 1(3): 155-162.

ABSTRACT: Cutaneous fungi are known to affect parts of the outermost skin
layers of mammals, including the epidermis, stratum spinosum and stratum
corneum, as well as mucocutaneous membranes, genitalia or external ears.
Relatively little is known about fungal infections of Mysticete cetaceans
and studies are needed to determine the fungal diversity associated with
these marine mammals. This case report was aimed at identifying the fungi
associated with the skin of a diseased neonatal southern right whale
australis*) found stranded in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Initial physical examination on site revealed hyperplasia of the follicular
and epidermal epithelium. Preliminary examination of skin biopsies using
scanning electron microscopy indicated that the skin was colonized by fungal
hyphae. Isolation methods yielded a number of fungal isolates, which were
identified using standard morphology and rDNA sequence data. These analyses
confirmed colonization of the cutaneous layers by species belonging to the
genera *Fusarium, Chaetomium *and *Penicillium*. Moreover, all isolates were
capable of degrading keratin, indicating that skin may act as a natural
substrate for these fungi. This study is the first report of the association
of these fungi with southern right whale skin.

Marnel M., Reeb, D., Botha, A. and Best, P.B. 2009. Yeast infection in a
beached southern right whale (*Eubalaena australis*) neonate. Journal of
Wildlife Diseases 45(3): 692-699.

ABSTRACT: A female southern right whale (*Eubalaena australis*) neonate was
found stranded on the Western Cape coast of southern Africa. Skin samples
were taken the same day from three different locations on the animal’s body
and stored at -20° C. Isolation through repetitive culture of these skin
sections yielded a single yeast species, *Candida zeylanoides*. Total
genomic DNA also was isolated directly from skin samples. Polymerase chain
reaction analysis of the Internal Transcribed Spacer region of the fungal
ribosomal gene cluster revealed the presence of *Filobasidiella
neoformans* var.
*neoformans*, the teleomorphic state of *Cryptococcus neoformans*. Fungal
infections in cetaceans seem to be limited when compared to infections
caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, *Candida* species appear
to be the most common type of fungal infection associated with cetaceans. To
our knowledge this is the first report of a *C. zeylanoides* infection in a
mysticete, as well as the first report of a dual infection involving two
opportunistic pathogenic yeast species in a cetacean.

PDF copies are available from Drs Mouton (marnel at sun.ac.za) and Reeb (
dreeblet at gmail.com).
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