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Med Mycol. 2010 Feb;48(1):166-76.e1. doi: 10.3109/13693780903127506.

Comparison of techniques to examine the diversity of fungi in adult patients with cystic fibrosis.

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Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


This study compares conventional and molecular techniques for the detection of fungi in 77 adult cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Three different methods were investigated, i.e., (1) conventional microbiological culture (including yeasts and filamentous fungi), (2) mycological culture with CF-derived fungal specific culture media, and (3) Non-culture and direct DNA extraction from patient sputa. Fungi isolated from environmental air samples of the CF unit were compared to fungi in sputa from CF patients. Fungi (n = 107) were detected in 14/77(18%) of patients by method 1, in 60/77 (78%) of patients by method 2 and with method 3, in 77/77(100%) of the patients. The majority of yeasts isolated were Candida albicans and C. dubliniensis. Exophiala (Wangiella) dermatitidis, Scedosporium apiospermum, Penicillium spp., Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus versicolor were also identified by sequence analysis of the rDNA short internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) region. Conventional laboratory analysis failed to detect fungi in 63 patients mainly due to overgrowth by Gram-negative organisms. Mycological culture with antibiotics dramatically increased the number of fungi that could be detected. Molecular techniques detected fungi such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Malassezia spp., Fuscoporia ferrea, Fusarium culmorum, Acremonium strictum, Thanatephorus cucumeris and Cladosporium spp. which were not found with other methods. This study demonstrates that several potentially important fungi may not be detected if mycological culture methods alone are used. A polyphasic approach employing both enhanced mycological culture with molecular detection will help determine the presence of fungi in the sputa of patients with CF and their healthcare environment.

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