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Infections due to Trichosporon species and Blastoschizomyces capitatus

Gary M Cox, MD
John R Perfect, MD
Section Editor
Carol A Kauffman, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna R Thorner, MD


Trichosporon species and Blastoschizomyces capitatus are related fungi and are rare causes of invasive infection in humans. Trichosporon spp can be found as a constituent of normal flora but can also cause both superficial and invasive infections in humans. Invasive disease due to Trichosporon spp, called trichosporonosis, occurs almost exclusively in immunocompromised hosts, appears to be increasing in frequency, and is usually fatal. This fungus also causes a characteristic infection of hair shafts called white piedra.

The mycology, epidemiology, and clinical infections caused by both Trichosporon spp and the related fungus Blastoschizomyces capitatus will be reviewed here. Blastoschizomyces capitatus has also been called Geotrichum capitatus and the teleomorph has been called Dipodascus capitatus, but in this topic we will stay with the nomenclature of Blastoschizomyces.


The mycology of Trichosporon spp is extremely complicated because the designation refers to a heterogeneous group of organisms. The heterogeneity results from the absence of simple methods to distinguish between the species in the clinical microbiology laboratory; thus, multiple members of the genus Trichosporon were previously categorized together under the name T. beigelii. With the use of modern molecular biological techniques, some mycologists have proposed a rearrangement of the genus [1-3]. The proposed names for the six main species associated with human infection are T. asahii, T. asteroides, T. cutaneum, T. inkin, T. mucoides, and T. ovoides [1,2]. The following disease associations have been observed:

T. asahii and T. mucoides are associated with systemic infection; T. asahii is more common than T. mucoides.

T. inkin and T. ovoides are associated with white piedra, affecting hair shafts; T. ovoides with infection of the hair of the scalp; and T. inkin with infection of the pubic hair.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Sep 3, 2015.
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