Fungus linked to dandruff, eczema found in deep sea vents

Aug 27, 2014, 4:00am

A fungus tied to eczema and seborrheic dermatitis has been found in marine environments including deep sea vents and coral reefs, according to recent research.

A fungus tied to eczema and seborrheic dermatitis has been found in marine environments including deep sea vents and coral reefs, according to recent research.

Scientists with the University of Hawai’i at Manoa found that members of the genus Malassezia are vastly more ecologically diverse than was previously believed. The studies uncovered new examples of the fungi on algae, coral and sponges in Hawaii and around the world.

“A single strain of the noted human associate, Malassezia restricta, is found in some of the most extreme and disconnected habitats on the planet, including arctic soils and hydrothermal vents,” scientist Anthony Amend, assistant professor at the university, said in a news release.

The fungus has also been found in marine life such as seals, lobsters and plankton, researchers said. The findings suggest further research is necessary to better understand the evolution and adaptation of the fungi.

Malassezia-like species appear to dominate certain marine habitats, which should most certainly be the focus of future research into the diversity and distribution of this enigmatic group,” researchers concluded. “Clearly, considering Malassezia a mere epidermis-commensal is a definition that is only skin deep.”

The research was published online Aug. 21 in PLOS Pathogens.