The environmental isolation of Cryptococcus spp. is typically a difficult undertaking. Collecting samples in the field is costly in terms of travel, personnel time and materials. Furthermore, the recovery rate of Cryptococcus spp. may be very low, thereby requiring a large number of samples to be taken without any guarantee of success. Ecological niche modeling is a tool that has traditionally been used to forecast the distribution of plant and animal of species for biodiversity and conservation purposes. Here, we use it in a public health application to produce risk area maps for cryptococcal disease in Colombia. The Genetic Algorithm for Ruleset Production (GARP) was used to create models for Cryptococcus neoformans (C. neoformans) and Cryptococcus gattii (C. gattii), based on environmental sampling and clinical records data recorded since 1987. These maps could be used to focus public health messaging related to cryptococcal disease, and it enables us to characterize the ecological niche for Cryptococcus in Colombia. We found that the OPEN ACCESS J. Fungi 2015, 1 333 ecological niche for C. gattii in Colombia is quite diverse, establishing itself in sub-tropical and temperate ecoregions within the country. This suggests that C. gattii is highly adaptive to different ecological conditions in Colombia and different regions of the world.
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