Dermatophytes are a group of filamentous fungi infecting keratinised tissues such as hair and nails. To treat these relatively harmless, but persistent infections, it is very important to identify the agent causing the infection. However, this reveals problematic in this group of fungi, as the delimitation of the species remains unresolved. This leads to difficulties for dermatologists to diagnose and treat these infections correctly. This project aims to revise the taxonomy of this group of fungi, taking into consideration a combination of epidemiological information (i.e. origin of the strain and clinical picture), morphological observations of the strains and their genetic analysis.
In collaboration with other researchers in the field and under the lead of Sybren De Hoog from the CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre (Utrecht, Nederland), the phylogeny of dermatophytes is revised. The main aim of this project is to do a complete revision of this group of organisms taking all available information into account.
Strains from culture collections (BCCM/IHEM and CBS) are analysed by multilocus gene sequencing, morphological observations and epidemiological informations.
In particular, our team focusses on the Trichophyton rubrum species complex.
Applying a correct taxonomy is fundamental for culture collections, but is also important from a medical point of view. The reclassification of this group of organisms will help doctors and more specifically dermatologists to set the correct diagnosis, which will improve patient treatment.