Torula is a yeast which is formally known as Candida utilis. This yeast has a number of practical uses, and it can also become pathogenic in certain circumstances. Torula can be found all over the world in a variety of settings, preferring cellulose-rich substrates such as wood, leaf litter, and paper pulp. In several regions, people deliberately cultivate this yeast for industrial purposes, usually on a substrate of wood pulp which makes the yeast easy to extract.
Yeasts are organisms within the fungal kingdom. They reproduce by budding, and they are unicellular in nature, although they can link together to form colonies. Many people think specifically of baker's yeast when they hear the term “yeast,” but there are thousands of yeast species, with many more waiting to be identified. Candida is a particularly large yeast genus with a number of representatives, including Torula.
The term “Torula” references a now deprecated scientific name for this yeast. Historically, Torula was known as Torula utilis, until researchers realized that the yeast belonged in the Candida genus. The yeast has also gone through a number of other scientific names and classifications, reflecting the difficulties involved in classifying many fungi, but the term “Torula” appears to have stuck.
This yeast can be used to provide dietary supplementation, especially in food for cats and dogs, where its high protein content is very useful. It is also used in the production of food for farmed fish and other food products. The slightly meaty flavor of this yeast, which lacks the bitterness many people associate with yeasts, causes some companies to use it as a flavor enhancer in some foods, especially packaged foods, and many people have developed other uses for this versatile yeast. Torula may also be found living with other yeasts, in which case the benefits are provided by both yeast species together.
In some cases, Torula may colonize the walls of a structure. People with sensitivity to molds can develop allergies and sinusitis as a result of exposure to the mold, especially when the exposure is prolonged. In these individuals, cleaning the environment to remove the mold is usually necessary to resolve the symptoms. The mold can also colonize the bodies of people with compromised immune systems, causing infection and discomfort. Urinary tract infections in particular appear to be a specialty of Torula. Antifungal medications can be used to help the body resist infections caused by this yeast.