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Biophys J. 2008 Jan 15;94(2):656-60. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

High-resolution cell surface dynamics of germinating Aspergillus fumigatus conidia.

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Unité de Chimie des Interfaces, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


We used real-time atomic force microscopy with a temperature-controlled stage (37 degrees C) to probe the structural and physicochemical dynamics of single Aspergillus fumigatus conidia during germination. Nanoscale topographic images of dormant spores revealed the presence of a layer of rodlets made of hydrophobins, in agreement with earlier electron microscopy observations. Within the 3-h germination period, progressive disruption of the rodlet layer was observed, revealing hydrophilic inner cell wall structures. Using adhesion force mapping with hydrophobic tips, these ultrastructural changes were shown to correlate with major differences in cell surface hydrophobicity. That is, the rodlet surface was uniformly hydrophobic due to the presence of hydrophobins, whereas the cell wall material appearing upon germination was purely hydrophilic. This study illustrates the potential of real-time atomic force microscopy imaging and force spectroscopy for tracking cell-surface dynamics.

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