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Pathogenic fungi encounter many different host environments to which they must adapt rapidly to ensure growth and survival. They also must be able to cope with alterations in established niches during long-term persistence in the host. Many eukaryotic pathogens have evolved a highly plastic genome, and large-scale chromosomal changes including aneuploidy, and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) can arise under various in vitro and in vivo stresses. Both aneuploidy and LOH can arise quickly during a single cell cycle, and it is hypothesized that they provide a rapid, albeit imprecise, solution to adaptation to stress until better and more refined solutions can be acquired by the organism. While LOH, with the extreme case of haploidization in Candida albicans, can purge the genome from recessive lethal alleles and/or generate recombinant progeny with increased fitness, aneuploidy, in the absence or rarity of meiosis, can serve as a non-Mendelian mechanism for generating genomic variation. © Springer Science+Business Media 2014.