Despite their clinical significance and substantial human health burden, fungal infections remain relatively under-appreciated. The widespread overuse of antibiotics and the increasing requirement for indwelling medical devices provides an opportunistic potential for the overgrowth and colonization of pathogenic Candida species on both biological and inert substrates. Indeed, it is now widely recognized that biofilms are a highly important part of their virulence repertoire. Candida albicans is regarded as the primary fungal biofilm forming species, yet there is also increasing interest and growing body of evidence for non-Candida albicans species (NCAS) biofilms, and interkingdom biofilm interactions. C. albicans biofilms are heterogeneous structures by definition, existing as three-dimensional populations of yeast, pseudo-hyphae, and hyphae, embedded within a self-produced extracellular matrix. Classical molecular approaches, driven by extensive studies of laboratory strains and mutants, have enhanced our knowledge and understanding of how these complex communities develop, thrive, and cause host-mediated damage. Yet our clinical observations tell a different story, with differential patient responses potentially due to inherent biological heterogeneity from specific clinical isolates associated with their infections. This review explores some of the recent advances made in an attempt to explore the importance of working with clinical isolates, and what this has taught us.
- Candida species