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Cryptococcus vishniacii
Photo Credit: Sarah Turner
Cryptococcus vishniacii
Photo Credit: Katherine Earle

Cryptococcus vishniacii is a psychrophilic yeast belonging to one of the three main lineages of the Basidiomycota, the Agaricomycota with the following phylogenetic placement: Tremellomycetes, Filobasidiales lineage, albidus clade.  Cryptococcus vishniacii is restricted to niche habitats that are considered extreme, such as low temperature oligotrophic deserts.  This species was first isolated from the Beacon supergroup sand stone soil in South Victoria Land, Antarctica (Vishniac & Hempfling, 1979). It is cream-colored in mass, lacks pseudomycelia and is nonfermentative.  This species is psychrophilic, in which its growth is restricted to below 20oC, and as low as -3oC.  It also has the ability to grow in a low nutrient environment, without added vitamins.  The key interest in C. vishniacii is in its ability to utilize a broad range of carbon sources.  It is able to incorporate significant amounts of carbon from CO2 at higher partial pressures. The interest is in the potential novel carbon utilization pathways and carbon flow at low temperatures, including enzymes that are able to break less typical carbon bonds (degradation).  In addition to utilizing potential alternative carbon pathways, psychrophilic yeasts are known to produce high amounts of lipids. These pathways may be of interest to industry in the production of biofuels through unique metabolic pathways or through pathways that utilize compounds such as glycerol to generate high levels of lipids.  The potential of unique carbon utilization pathways and low temperature metabolism are of interest to both industry and basic academic research.

 

References:
Vishniac, H.S. and W.P. Hempfling (1979).  “Cryptococcus vishniacci sp. nov., an Antarctic Yeast.”  International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology 29.2: 153-158.

Vishniac, H.S. and W.P. Hempfling (1979).  “Evidence of an indigenous microbiota (yeast) in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.”  Journal of General Microbiology 112: 301-314.

Rossi, M., P. Buzzini, et al. (2009).  “Growth, lipid accumulation and fatty acids composition in obligate psychrophilic, facultative psychrophilic and mesophilic yeasts.”  FEMS Microbial Ecology 69: 363-372.