Scientists have found traces of the fungal organism Histoplasma capsulatum in Antarctica

In a recent study published in the journal New infectious diseasesscientists have discovered Histoplasm capsule

Submission: Molecular detection of Histoplasma capsulatum in Antarctica. Image credit: S.Zakharov / Shutterstock


Histoplasm capsule

Histoplasm capsule histoplasm variety – H. capsulatum (Panama line), H. Mississipians (North American line), H. Ohyense (North American line) and H. suraamericanum (Hispanic origin).

Sampling sites for the study of Histoplasma capsulatum in Antarctica.  A) Location of the Antarctic Peninsula within the Antarctic Continent;  B) King George Island;  C) Potter Island and the Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA No. 132).  Source: SCAR Antarctic Digital Database (

About the study

H. capsulatum from the GenBank sequence database. The sequences were then used to construct a phylogenetic tree to infer the evolutionary history of the species. H. capsulatum Antarctica.


The results indicate the presence H. capsulatum from two of eight soil samples and three of nine penguin faecal samples collected. The phylogenetic tree revealed various similarities between the five sequences generated in this study. Genetic data from one soil sample and two faecal samples are clustered with the Hispanic LAmB1 lineage, while other sequences from soil and fecal samples are clustered with sequences from another Hispanic LAmA2 lineage. None of the sequences generated in this study showed similarities with North American or Panamanian lines.

The Potter Peninsula, a protected area, is home to many migratory birds during the summer months and breeding colonies of birds and marine mammals. All this activity of wild animals has led to the enrichment of the soil with nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and organic carbon.

Histoplasm capsule usually, normal development requires temperatures between 18 and 28 °C and an environment with low light and humidity above 60%. The authors believe that H. capsulatum The H. capsulatum species assemblage manages to survive in less than ideal Antarctic conditions due to the high organic matter content of the soil in the Antarctic Special Conservation Area, which encourages the growth of the fungus. In addition, they suggest that the fungus may have spread overland with migratory birds or humans arriving in Antarctica.

Given the different phylogenetic relationship H. capsulatum from Antarctica, the researchers believe that the fungus may have spread multiple times or that the species has undergone adaptive changes. The phylogenetic results also indicate a common geological history for Antarctica and South America.

At 800x magnification, this photomicrograph shows some ultrastructural details of the fungal organism Histoplasma capsulatum that was isolated from the Jamaican isolate, including a number of tuberculate and spheroidal macroconidia and clear, filamentous hyphae.

Under 800x magnification, this photomicrograph shows some ultrastructural details of the fungal organism Histoplasma capsulatum, which was isolated from an isolate containing a series of tuberculate spheroidal macroconidia and transparent filamentous hyphae.


In conclusion, the study revealed H. capsulatum DNA in soil and faecal samples from penguins from part of the Antarctic Special Protected Area, home to many migratory birds and marine mammal colonies. This discovery suggests a much wider presence of the fungus than previously thought, and also points to the ability of H. capsulatum to reproduce. H. capsulatum withstand temperatures below ideal growing conditions. DNA sequences from soil and faecal samples show different phylogenetic relationships, indicative of multiple dispersal.

According to the authors, given the ability of fungal pathogens such as H. capsulatum In order to cause widespread infections, monitoring of emerging fungal pathogens and their transmission in Antarctica is fundamental to preventing histoplasmosis and other fungal infections.

Link to the journal:

  • Moreira L.M., Meyer W., Chamet M., Brandão M.L., Vivoni A.M., Portugal J., Vanke B. & Trilles L. (2022). Molecular detection Histoplasm capsule in Antarctica. New infectious diseases. (expected option).,

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