Fungal Infections

Species/common name:

Candida albicans

Teleomorph: None
Synonym is Candida stellatoidea                                                        read review by Neil Gow

Natural habitat

Candida albicans lives as part of normal flora on mucous membranes and in the digestive tract of humans and animals. If isolated in the environmental this usually reflects contamination by human or animal excreta.

Geography

Worldwide distribution.

Frequency

The most common cause of all mucosal and systemic/invasive forms of candidiasis.

Diseases

Causes the widest range of infections caused by yeasts. From superficial to systemic and disseminated infections, e.g. onychomycosis, vaginitis, oral thrush, oesophageal candidiasis, bloodstream infection (candidaemia), disseminated infections involving any deep organ as liver, kidney, lung, etc., meningitis, endocarditis, pericarditis, peritonitis, arthritis, osteomyelitis, endophthalmitis, etc. Deep and disseminated infections are more frequent in immunocompromised patients. In addition, causes chronic mucocutaneous candidosis in patients with a genetic disorder of T cells.

Culture peculiarities

The color of the colonies is cream, glistening, and sometimes waxy. The appearance is soft and the surface is smooth although some strains can became wrinkled with a mycelia border.

Like Candida dubliniensis, which it is closely related to, it forms hyphae in liquid culture in the presence of serum. This forms the basis of the germ tube identification test. It forms biofilms and can mate. Mating requires switching between “white” and “opaque” colony morphologies. White cells are round and form shiny, domed-shaped colonies in contrast to opaque cells which are a little elongated and form darker, flatter colonies.

Antifungal resistance (intrinsic and acquired)

Most isolates of C. albicans are fully susceptible to all clinical antifungal drugs. Resistance to amphotericin B is very rare, whereas resistance to fluconazole and other azoles occurs in up to 7% of wild type isolates. Increased rates of resistance are seen in AIDS patients taking low dose or intermittent fluconazole. Resistance to flucytosine may occur after exposure. Echinocandin resistance is rare and associated with prolonged therapy.

Biosafety level 2

This fungal species may be managed in a laboratory with safety containment level 2.

Industrial use

Possibly removal of textile dyes prior to discharge of industrial effluents. One strain called TL3 is able to degrade phenol compounds and formaldehyde (Tsai SC, Tsai LD, Li YK. An isolate of  Candida albicans TL3 capable of degrading phenol at large concentration. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2005 Dec;69(12):2358-67.

Images


 

Typical colonies of Candida albicans on a black background for contrast.

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Microscopic appearance of C. albicans on Corn meal agar. Chlamydospores (arrow), hypha and pseudohyphae are characteristic


Candida albicans forming germ tubes (hyphae) as a quick and simple identification test.

CHROMAgar™ plate showing Candida albicans

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