Oral candidiasis, usually called thrush, is a fungal infection of the mouth that often affects people with HIV. By cataloguing oral microbiomes in healthy people and HIV patients, scientists might have found a new way to tackle the problem. There was little difference in oral bacteria between the two groups, but clear disparities when it came to fungi. A fungal family called Candida was more abundant in HIV-infected individuals than healthy people, while another family, Pichia, was less plentiful in HIV patients than others. This suggested the two types of fungi might be engaged in battle. Sure enough, as the image shows, the tongues of mice treated with Pichia (right) hosted hardly any Candida (magenta flecks) compared with those of untreated mice (left). If scientists can work out exactly how Pichia inhibits its fungal foe, they could potentially develop new ways to manage oral thrush and other, more dangerous fungal infections.
Written by Daniel Cossins
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