Select Streptococci Can Degrade Candida Mannan To Facilitate Growth

Robert Fultz, Taylor Ticer, Janiece Glover, Leah Stripe, Melinda A. Engevik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Multiple studies have found that streptococci have a synergistic relationship with Candida species, but the details of these interactions are still being discovered. Candida species are covered by mannan, a polymer of mannose, which could serve as a carbon source for certain microbes. We hypothesized that streptococci that possess mannan-degrading glycosyl hydrolases would be able to enzymatically cleave mannose residues, which could serve as a primary carbohydrate source to support growth. We analyzed 90 streptococcus genomes to predict the capability of streptococci to transport and utilize mannose and to degrade diverse mannose linkages found on mannan. The genome analysis revealed mannose transporters and downstream pathways in most streptococci, but only,50% of streptococci harbored the glycosyl hydrolases required for mannan degradation. To confirm the ability of streptococci to use mannose or mannan, we grew 6 representative streptococci in a chemically defined medium lacking glucose supplemented with mannose, yeast extract, or purified mannan isolated from Candida and Saccharomyces strains. Although all tested Streptococcus strains could use mannose, Streptococcus salivarius and Streptococcus agalactiae, which did not possess mannan-degrading glycosyl hydrolases, could not use yeast extract or mannan to enhance their growth. In contrast, we found that Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus parasanguinis, Streptococcus sanguinis, and Streptococcus pyogenes possessed the necessary glycosyl hydrolases to use yeast extract and isolated mannan, which promoted robust growth. Our data indicate that several streptococci are capable of degrading fungal mannans and harvesting mannose for energy. IMPORTANCE This work highlights a previously undescribed aspect of streptococcal Candida interactions. Our work identifies that certain streptococci possess the enzymes required to degrade mannan, and through this mechanism, they can release mannose residues from the cell wall of fungal species and use them as a nutrient source. We speculate that streptococci that can degrade fungal mannan may have a competitive advantage for colonization. This finding has broad implications for human health, as streptococci and Candida are found at multiple body sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere02237
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Candida
  • Fungi
  • Mannan
  • Saccharomyces
  • Streptococci
  • Streptococcus
  • Yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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