Malassezia

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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 species 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.
Note: It is important to notify the laboratory if 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.
13. CDC/Georg. Image #2916. This photomicrograph of a skin scale tissue sample, reveals the presence of numerous Malassezia furfur fungal organisms. Usually, M. furfur grows sparsely without causing a rash. In some individuals, it grows more actively for reasons unknown, resulting in pale brown flaky patches on the trunk, neck, or arms. PHIL public domain. Created 1964. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=2916
14. CDC/ Georg. Image #3938. This photomicrograph of a skin scale tissue specimen revealed some of the ultrastructural characteristics found in a case of tinea versicolor, produced by the fungal organism, Malassezia furfur, which included yeast-like fungal cells, and short hyphal elements. PHIL public domain. Created 1964. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=3938

13. Malassezia furfur demonstrating yeast-like fungal cells and short hyphal elements.
14. Malassezia furfur yeast-like cells and short hyphal elements. Note the unusual budding yeast structures.