Abstract

The isolation is reported of Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii and C. n. var. neoformans from decayed wood inside trunk hollows of Syzygium cumini and of C. n. var. neoformans from Ficus religiosa trees in the Delhi/New Delhi metropolitan area. Fourteen of sixty-six (21%) S. cumini trees investigated proved to be positive, seven for each variety. The two varieties never co-occurred in the same hollow. C. n. var. neoformans was also isolated from three of seventeen Ficus religiosa trees. Two of these isolates originated from decayed wood and one from bark. The C. n. var. gattii and C. n. var. neoformans isolates belonged to serotype B and serotype A, respectively. The data strongly supported colonization of S. cumini by both varieties and of F. religiosa trees by C. n. var. neoformans. Evidence of this was found by repeated isolations. For example, in 36/44 (82%) samples for C. n. var. gattii and 22/27 (81%) samples for C. n. var. neoformans, and by a high population density in the tested wood debris (maximally 6×105 colony-forming units per gram [c.f.u./g] for C. n. var. gattii and 8×104 c.f.u./g for C. n. var. neoformans). No eucalypt trees were seen near the positive S. cumini and F. religiosa trees. The densities of C. neoformans in these trees exceeded those found previously in Eucalyptus camaldulensis and in other tree species more rarely reported to be sources of C. neoformans in India. S. cumini and F. religiosa appear not to have been reported to date as sources for either C. n. var. gattii or C. n. var. neoformans. Our results add to the recently emerging evidence that the natural habitat of C. n. var. gattii and C. n. var. neoformans is not specific to woody or other debris of particular tree species, but instead is more generalized.