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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1986 Jan;51(1):65-73.

Adhesion of the clay minerals montmorillonite, kaolinite, and attapulgite reduces respiration of Histoplasma capsulatum.


The respiration of three phenotypes of Histoplasma capsulatum, the causal agent of histoplasmosis in humans, was markedly reduced by low concentrations of montmorillonite but was reduced less by even higher concentrations of kaolinite or attapulgite (palygorskite). The reduction in respiration followed a pattern that suggested saturation-type kinetics: an initial sharp reduction that occurred with low concentrations of clay (0.01 to 0.5% [wt/vol]), followed by a more gradual reduction with higher concentrations (1 to 8%). Increases in viscosity (which could impair the movement of O2) caused by the clays were not responsible for the reduction in respiration, and the clays did not interfere with the availability of nutrients. Scanning electron microscopy after extensive washing showed that the clay particles were tightly bound to the hyphae, suggesting that the clays reduced the rate of respiration of H. capsulatum by adhering to the mycelial surface and, thereby, interfered with the movement of nutrients, metabolites, and gases across the mycelial wall.

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