Sporotrichosis is a cutaneous and subcutaneous fungal disease of humans and other mammals, known to be caused by the Sporothrix schenckii species complex, which comprises four species of clinical importance: S. brasiliensis, S. globosa, S. luriei, and S. schenckii sensu stricto. Of them, S. globosa and S. schenckii s. str. show global distribution and differences in global frequency as causal agents of the disease. In the Americas, only three species are present: S. schenckii s. str., S. brasiliensis (so far, only reported in Brazil), and S. globosa. In Venezuela, since the first case of sporotrichosis reported in 1935, S. schenckii have been considered its unique etiological agent. In the present work, the presence of more than one species in the country was evaluated.
By phenotypic key features and molecular phylogeny analyses, we re-examined 30 isolates from diverse Venezuelan regions belonging to the fungi collection of Instituto de Biomedicina, Caracas, Venezuela, and national reference center for skin diseases. All isolates were collected between 1973 and 2013, and maintained in distilled water.
Sporotrichosis in Venezuela is mainly caused by S. schenckii s. str. (70%). However, a significant proportion (30%) of sporotrichosis cases in the country can be attributable to S. globosa. A correlation between intraspecific genotypes and clinical presentation is proposed.
Our data suggest that sporotrichosis various clinical forms might be related to genetic diversity of isolates, and possibly, to diverse virulence profiles previously reported in the S. schenckii species complex. Sporothrix globosa was found to be the causative agent of 30% of sporotrichosis for the Venezuelan cases re-examined, the highest frequency of this species so far reported in the Americas. The high genetic variability presented by S. schenckii s. str. indicates that species distinction based on phenotypic key features could be a challenging and uncertain task; molecular identification should be always employed.