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Candida albicans

Candida albicans is a dimorphic fungus, i.e. it can take two forms. Most of the time it exists as oval, single yeast cells, which reproduce by budding. Most yeasts do not produce mycelia (a mass of branching, threadlike hyphal filaments), but Candida has a trick up its sleeve. Normal room temperatures favour the yeast form of the organism, but under physiological conditions (body temperature, pH, and the presence of serum) it may develop into a hyphal form. Pseudohyphae, composed of chains of cells, are also common. In the video, you can see yeast cells and a few elongated cells which have begun to grow into a hypha:

There are many species of the genus Candida which cause the disease known as candidiasis or "thrush". Candida is a commensal organism found in 40-80% of normal humans, and is present in the mouth, gut, and vagina. Problems start when a person experiences some alteration in:

Candida albicansAlthough Candida most frequently infects the skin and mucosal surfaces, it can cause systemic infections manifesting as pneumonia, septicaemia or endocarditis in severely immunocompromised patients. There does not appear to be significant difference in pathogenic potential of different Candida strains, therefore establishment of infection appears to be determined by host factors and not the organism itself. However, the ability to assume various forms may be related to the pathogenicity of the organism. The yeast form is 10-12 µm in diameter. Pseudohyphae (chains of cells) may be formed from budding yeast cells which remain attached to each other. Chlamydospores may be formed on the pseudomycelium. Fortunately, several drugs are available to treat serious systemic infections, e.g. itraconazole and fluconazole.


 


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