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Learning about microbial language: possible interactions mediated by microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and relevance to understanding Malassezia spp. metabolism

Published: 7 April 2021
Metabolomics , Volume 17, pp 1-11; doi:10.1007/s11306-021-01786-3

Abstract: Background Microorganisms synthesize and release a large diversity of small molecules like volatile compounds, which allow them to relate and interact with their environment. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-based compounds with low molecular weight and generally, high vapor pressure; because of their nature, they spread easily in the environment. Little is known about the role of VOCs in the interaction processes, and less is known about VOCs produced by Malassezia, a genus of yeasts that belongs to the human skin mycobiota. These yeasts have been associated with several dermatological diseases and currently, they are considered as emerging opportunistic yeasts. Research about secondary metabolites of these yeasts is limited. The pathogenic role and the molecular mechanisms involved in the infection processes of this genus are yet to be clarified. VOCs produced by Malassezia yeasts could play an important function in their metabolism; in addition, they might be involved in either beneficial or pathogenic host-interaction processes. Since these yeasts present differences in their nutritional requirements, like lipids to grow, it is possible that these variations of growth requirements also define differences in the volatile organic compounds produced in Malassezia species. Aim of review We present a mini review about VOCs produced by microorganisms and Malassezia species, and hypothesize about their role in its metabolism, which would reveal clues about host-pathogen interaction. Key scientific concepts of review Since living organisms inhabit a similar environment, the interaction processes occur naturally; as a result, a signal and a response from participants of these processes become important in understanding several biological behaviors. The efforts to elucidate how living organisms interact has been studied from several perspectives. An important issue is that VOCs released by the microbiota plays a key role in the setup of relationships between living micro and macro organisms. The challenge is to determine what is the role of these VOCs produced by human microbiota in commensal/pathogenic scenarios, and how these allow understanding the species metabolism. Malassezia is part of the human mycobiota, and it is implicated in commensal and pathogenic processes. It is possible that their VOCs are involved in these behavioral changes, but the knowledge about this remains overlocked. For this reason, VOCs produced by microorganisms and Malassezia spp. and their role in several biological processes are the main topic in this review.
Keywords: Malassezia / Lipid metabolism / Interaction processes / Fungal diseases / Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) / Microbial volatiles

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