Dating the Cryptococcus gattii Dispersal to the North American Pacific Northwest
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Dating the Cryptococcus gattii Dispersal to the North American Pacific Northwest

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    The emergence of |, previously regarded as a predominantly tropical pathogen, in the temperate climate of the North American Pacific Northwest (PNW) in 1999 prompted several questions. The most prevalent among these was the timing of the introduction of this pathogen to this novel environment. Here, we infer tip-dated timing estimates for the three clonal | populations observed in the PNW, VGIIa, VGIIb, and VGIIc, based on whole-genome sequencing of 134 | isolates and using Bayesian evolutionary analysis by sampling trees (BEAST). We estimated the nucleotide substitution rate for each lineage (1.59 × 10|, 1.59 × 10|, and 2.70 × 10|, respectively) to be an order of magnitude higher than common neutral fungal mutation rates (2.0 × 10|), indicating a microevolutionary rate (e.g., successive clonal generations in a laboratory) in comparison to a species' slower, macroevolutionary rate (e.g., when using fossil records). The clonal nature of the PNW | emergence over a narrow number of years would therefore possibly explain our higher mutation rates. Our results suggest that the mean time to most recent common ancestor for all three sublineages occurred within the last 60 to 100 years. While the cause of | dispersal to the PNW is still unclear, our research estimates that the arrival is neither ancient nor very recent (i.e., <25 years ago), making a strong case for an anthropogenic introduction. | The recent emergence of the pathogenic fungus | in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) resulted in numerous investigations into the epidemiological and enzootic impacts, as well as multiple genomic explorations of the three primary molecular subtypes of the fungus that were discovered. These studies lead to the general conclusion that the subtypes identified likely emerged out of Brazil. Here, we conducted genomic dating analyses to determine the ages of the various lineages seen in the PNW and propose hypothetical causes for the dispersal events. Bayesian evolutionary analysis strongly suggests that these independent fungal populations in the PNW are all 60 to 100 years old, providing a timing that is subsequent to the opening of the Panama Canal, which allowed for more direct shipping between Brazil and the western North American coastline, a possible driving event for these fungal translocation events.
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