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spores of cryptococcus

Bad Seeds

A false color scanning electron micrograph shows infectious spores of Cryptococcus fungi (purple) decorating the surface of the specialized structure where they are produced by meiotic cell division. Airborne on wind currents, these spores are small enough to penetrate deeply into human airways to cause an initial lung infection that spreads via the bloodstream to infect the brain. A team lead by Molecular Genetics and Microbiology chair Joseph Heitman has found that sexual reproduction -- even between genetically identical clones -- can help these fungi survive and evolve to spread diseases.