Biological diversity has been estimated for various phyla of life, such as insects and mammals, but in the microbe world is has been difficult to determine species richness and abundance. Here we describe a study of species diversity of fungi with a yeast-like colony morphology from the San Juan Islands, a group of islands that lies southeast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Our sampling revealed that the San Juan archipelago biosphere contains a diverse range of such fungi predominantly belonging to the Basidiomycota, particularly of the order Tremellales. One member of this group, Cryptococcus gattii, is the etiological agent of a current and ongoing outbreak of cryptococcosis on nearby Vancouver Island. Our sampling did not, however, reveal this species. While the lack of recovery of C. gattii does not preclude its presence on the San Juan Islands, our results suggest that the Strait of Juan de Fuca may be serving as a geographical barrier to restrict the dispersal of this primary human fungal pathogen into the United States.
Fraser, J. A., Lim, S. M., Diezmann, S., Wenink, E. C., Arndt, C. G., Cox, G. M., Dietrich, F. S., & Heitman, J. (2006). Yeast diversity sampling on the San Juan Islands reveals no evidence for the spread of the Vancouver Island Cryptococcus gattii outbreak to this locale. FEMS Yeast Research, 6(4), 620-624. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1567-1364.2006.00075.x