What is Rhodotorula spp.? High and low values | Lab results explained

Rhodotorula species are pigmented basidiomycetous yeasts in the family Sporidiobolaceae. 

The genus contains 37 species, of which only three, including R. mucilaginosa (formerly R. rubra), R. minuta, and R. glutinis, have been reported as causes of infection in humans. 

Rhodotorula species are widespread in nature and can be isolated from a variety of sources including air, soil, seawater, plants, dairy products, and the household environment (e.g., shower curtains, bathtub grout).  It is also possible for laboratory specimens to become contaminated with this organism. In humans, Rhodotorula species have been recovered from cultures of skin, nails, and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts and are generally thought to be commensals.

Nearly 90% of patients with Rhodotorula species infection have underlying solid or hematologic malignancy, organ/bone marrow transplant, or immunosuppression due to corticosteroid use, neutropenia, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), or malnutrition. The most common risk factor is the presence of a central venous catheter (CVC).

One third of the cases are receiving parenteral nutrition when Rhodotorula infection appears.

Although the precise incidence is unknown, infection due to Rhodotorula species is much less common than infection with other yeast species such as Candida and Cryptococcus. Nevertheless, the number of infections has clearly increased during the last few years. In a retrospective study at a teaching hospital in Brazil over a 9-year period, only 2.3% of fungal blood isolates were Rhodotorula species, compared to 83.4% and 6.6% for Candida and Cryptococcus species, respectively.



Rhodotorula spp. is often found in patients who are immunosuppressed or are under treatment that requires the use of central venous catheters.

Rhodotorula spp. are fungi commonly found in the environment and in various sources including soil, plants, bathrooms, and liquids (milk, water, juice).

Rhodotorula spp. may be a commensal fungus in most individuals.


Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

The information on is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

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