Scientists long believed that the fungal pathogen Candida albicans was incapable of producing haploid cells—which contain only one copy of each chromosome, analagous to eggs and sperm—for mating. Mixing of genes in sexual reproduction helps generate the diversity that is the raw material for evolution, and C. albicans' inability to reproduce sexually appeared to give it a disadvantage. An international research team, including Yue Wang at the A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore, has now found viable haploid strains of C. albicans. The finding illuminates C. albicans' evolution and pathogenicity.
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