Diverse Human Skin Fungal Communities in Children Converge in Adulthood

NISC Comparative Sequencing Program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Understanding the skin mycobiome (fungal communities) is important because both commensal and pathogenic fungi can drive cutaneous disease depending on host status and body sites, including the scalp, feet, and groin. Interestingly, age may also affect skin fungal infections as certain dermatophytoses (i.e., tinea capitis) are more frequent in children than adults. We previously described the skin mycobiomes in healthy adults, showing lipophilic fungi Malassezia predominate in most skin sites. Because children have less sebaceous skin before puberty, we compared the fungal communities of primary clinical samples from healthy children and adults, based on sequencing of a fungal phylogenetic marker. Although Malassezia predominated on the trunk, head, and arm skin of adults (age 18–39), children (age < 14) had more diverse fungal communities, for example, Eurotiomycetes, which includes common dermatophytes. Species-level classification showed that Malassezia globosa predominated in children. Collectively, our findings indicate that prepubertal skin is colonized by diverse fungi, whereas adult skin is predominantly obligatory lipophilic Malassezia, suggesting that fungal communities on skin profoundly shift during puberty. Mycobiome shifts during puberty are likely due to alterations in sebaceous gland activation and sebum composition. This study provides a foundational framework for studies investigating interactions between fungi, skin, and pediatric dermatophytosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2356-2363
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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