Multi-locus DNA sequence analysis, antifungal agent susceptibility, and fungal keratitis outcome in horses from Southeastern United States.


Cullen M, Jacob ME, Cornish V, VanderSchel IQ, Cotter HVT, Cubeta MA, Carbone I, Gilger BC.
PLoS One. 2019 Mar 28;14(3):e0214214


Morphological characterization and multi-locus DNA sequence analysis of fungal isolates obtained from 32 clinical cases of equine fungal keratitis (FK) was performed to identify species and determine associations with antifungal susceptibility, response to therapy and clinical outcome. Two species of Aspergillus (A. flavus and A. fumigatus) and three species of Fusarium (F. falciforme, F. keratoplasticum, and F. proliferatum) were the most common fungi isolated and identified from FK horses. Most (91%) equine FK Fusarium nested within the Fusarium solani species complex (FSSC) with nine genetically diverse strains/lineages, while 83% of equine FK Aspergillus nested within the A. flavus clade with three genetically diverse lineages. Fungal species and evolutionary lineage were not associated with clinical outcome. However, species of equine FK Fusarium were more likely (p = 0.045) to be associated with stromal keratitis. Species of Aspergillus were more susceptible to voriconazole and terbinafine than species of Fusarium, while species of Fusarium were more susceptible to thiabendazole than species of Aspergillus. At the species level, A. fumigatus and A. flavus were more susceptible to voriconazole and terbinafine than F. falciforme. Natamycin susceptibility was higher for F. falciforme and A. fumigatus compared to A. flavus. Furthermore, F. falciforme was more susceptible to thiabendazole than A. flavus and A. fumigatus. These observed associations of antifungal sensitivity to natamycin, terbinafine, and thiabendazole demonstrate the importance of fungal identification to the species rather than genus level. The results of this study suggest that treatment of equine FK with antifungal agents requires accurate fungal species identification.