Rhodotorula is a common environmental inhabitant. It can be cultured from soil, water, and air samples. It is able to scavenge nitrogenous compounds from its environment remarkably well, growing even in air which has been carefully cleaned of any fixed nitrogen contaminants.
Rhodotorula is an emerging opportunistic pathogen, particularly in immunocompromised patients. Many cases of fungemia associated with catheters, endocarditis, peritonitis, meningitis, and endophthalmitis are infections incited by this yeast. The great majority of these infections were catheter-related and diagnosed in patients with cancer.