The Cryptococcus species complex is composed of two common pathogenic species, namely Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii, which cause systemic infections in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent individuals. Both species have a bipolar mating system, with mating type (MAT[alpha]) being predominant in clinical and environmental isolates. On the basis of genetic variation, this species complex is divided into eight major genotypes, which show differences in epidemiology, biology, virulence and antifungal susceptibility. Within each major genotype, more diverse subgroups have been discovered and could be related to specific pathogenic attributes. This review will discuss the methods that have been developed in recent years to characterize the MATs, genotypes, varieties, species and serotypes established previously in this microorganism.
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