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Mycopathologia. 2005 Apr;159(3):353-60.

The use of new probes and stains for improved assessment of cell viability and extracellular polymeric substances in Candida albicans biofilms.

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Division of Oral Biosciences, Faculty Dentistry, The Prince Philip Dental Hospital, University of Hong Kong, 34 Hospital Road, SAR, China.


Phenotypic and genotypic cell differentiation is considered an important feature that confers enhanced antifungal resistance in candidal biofilms. Particular emphasis has been placed in this context on the viability of biofilm subpopulations, and their heterogeneity with regard to the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). We therefore assessed the utility of two different labeled lectins Erythrina cristagalli (ECA) and Canavalia ensiformis (ConA), for EPS visualization. To evaluate the viability of candidal biofilms, we further studied combination stains, SYTO9 and propidium iodide (PI). The latter combination has been successfully used to assess bacterial, but not fungal, viability although PI alone has been previously used to stain nuclei in fungal cells. Candida albicans biofilms were developed in a rotating disc biofilm reactor and observed in situ using confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM). Our data indicate that SYTO9 and PI are reliable vital stains that may be used to investigate C. albicans biofilms. When used together with ConA, the lectin ECA optimized EPS visualization and revealed differential production of this material in mature candidal biofilms. The foregoing probes and stains and the methodology described should help better characterize C. albicans biofilms in terms of cell their viability, and EPS production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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