Pathogenic fungi are a growing health concern worldwide, particularly in large, densely populated cities. The dramatic upsurge of pigeon populations in cities has been implicated in the increased incidence of invasive fungal infections. In this study, we used a culture-independent, high-throughput sequencing approach to describe the diversity of clinically relevant fungi (CRF) associated with pigeon faeces and map the relative abundance of CRF across Seoul, Korea. In addition, we tested whether certain geographical, sociological and meteorological factors were significantly associated with the diversity and relative abundance of CRF. Finally, we compared the CRF diversity of fresh and old pigeon faeces to identify the source of the fungi and the role of pigeons in dispersal. Our results demonstrated that both the composition and relative abundance of CRF are unevenly distributed across Seoul. The green area ratio and the number of multiplex houses were positively correlated with species diversity, whereas wind speed and number of households were negatively correlated. The number of workers and green area ratio were positively correlated with the relative abundance of CRF, whereas wind speed was negatively correlated. Because many CRF were absent in fresh faeces, we inferred that most species cannot survive the gastrointestinal tract of pigeons and instead are likely transmitted through soil or air and use pigeon faeces as a substrate for proliferation.
LEE, W. D., FONG, J., EIMES, J. A., & LIM, Y. W. (2017). Diversity and abundance of human-pathogenic fungi associated with pigeon faeces in urban environments. Molecular Ecology, 26(17), 4574-4585. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14216