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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 30;4(10):e7673. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007673.

Aspergillus terreus accessory conidia are unique in surface architecture, cell wall composition and germination kinetics.

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Mycotic Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Infection with Aspergillus terreus is more likely to result in invasive, disseminated disease when compared to other Aspergillus species; importantly this species appears to be less susceptible to the antifungal drug amphotericin B. Unique to this species is the ability to produce specialized structures denoted as accessory conidia (AC) directly on hyphae both in vitro and in vivo. With the hypothesis that production of AC by A. terreus may enhance virulence of this organism, we analyzed the phenotype, structure and metabolic potential of these conidia. Comparison of A. terreus phialidic conidia (conidia that arise from conidiophores, PC) and AC architecture by electron microscopy revealed distinct morphological differences between the two conidial forms; AC have a smoother, thicker outer cell surface with no apparent pigment-like layer. Further, AC germinated rapidly, had enhanced adherence to microspheres, and were metabolically more active compared to PC. Additionally, AC contained less cell membrane ergosterol, which correlated with decreased susceptibility to AMB as determined using a flow cytometry based analysis. Furthermore, AC exhibited surface patches of beta1-3 glucan, suggestive of attachment scarring. Collectively, the findings of this study suggest a possible role for AC in A. terreus pathogenesis.

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