Molecular identification of Malassezia species isolated from neonates hospitalized in Neonatal intensive care units and their mothers

Document Type : Original Articles


1 Department of Medical Mycology and Parasitology, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Basic Sciences in Infectious Diseases Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Medical Parasitology and Mycology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

4 Neonatal Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran



Background and Purpose: Given the important role of Malassezia spp. in skin diseases
and other associated infections in neonates, this study aimed to investigate the presence
and frequency of Malassezia spp. in the skin of neonates hospitalized in neonatal
intensive care units and their mothers using culture and accurate molecular-based
Materials and Methods: In total, 205 samples were collected from 130 neonates (>4-
day-old) and 75 mothers. Isolation of Malassezia spp. from the skin was performed using
Leeming-Notman agar and modified Dixon agar media. To compare the Malassezia
microflora on the skin of the neonates and their mothers, a polymerase chain reaction
sequencing method was performed for spp. identification of 92 isolates obtained from
neonates and their mothers. Moreover, possible associated risk factors for the
colonization of Malassezia spp. on the skin were recorded.
Results: Cultures from 62.3% of neonates and 77.3% of mothers were positive for
Malassezia spp. growth. Malassezia globosa was the most prevalent isolated spp. found
in the skin of the study population. It is noteworthy that a rare Malassezia spp.,
Malassezia arunalokei, was isolated from the skin of one neonate. There was a 76%
similarity between the mother-neonate isolate sequences results. The statistical analysis
showed that the type of feeding is a significant (P<0.001) associated factor for
Malassezia skin colonization.
Conclusion: The findings support the hypothesis that the colonization of Malassezia in
neonates is significantly influenced by that of the mother, and this may be associated
with breastfeeding.