Fungi are Adapting to a Warming Climate, Becoming a Greater Threat to Humans
Fungi are all around us, and most people breath in their spores every day without even knowing it. Most species of fungus cannot survive our high body temperatures. New research shows fungi are evolving to withstand warming climates, which can allow harmful ones to survive and grow inside the human body. As climate change places evolutionary pressures on some fungi to adapt to the extreme heat, our body’s natural defense becomes less effective. One recent study examined a species called C. deneoformans. The scientists found that increasing the fungi’s temperature by 12.6 °F, or 7 °C, causes its genetic changes to accelerate. These kinds of changes could make the fungi more likely to infect people and more resistant to treatment. Currently, severe infections happen most often to people with weakened immune systems. However, anyone can experience an infection, which range from mild to severe. In otherwise healthy people, symptoms usually subside with treatment, or resolve on their own. However, if left untreated, these infections can cause severe complications. As fungi become more at home in the human body, new treatments will need to be developed.