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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fungal Infections in Humans. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Malassezia

Malassezia spp. are commensals of the skin. Some species are lipid-dependent. Tinea versicolor is a common infection of the superficial epidermis caused by Malassezia spp. It is one of the most common cutaneous infections in the tropics and subtropics worldwide. Malassezia spp. may rarely cause bloodstream infections; these are usually associated with an indwelling intravascular catheter and the administration of hyperalimentation that contains lipids.
The organisms appear as very small yeasts about 2 µm in diameter with unipolar broad-based budding. Budding yeasts are described as resembling bowling pins, while the daughter cell budding from the parent cell is sometimes likened to a turtle head coming out of its shell.
It is important for the laboratory to know that infection by a Malassezia spp. is suspected so that long chain fatty acid supplements (olive oil or Tween) can be added to culture media.
The image to the right is Malassezia furfur demonstrating yeast-like fungal cells, and short hyphal elements.