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School of Biological Sciences
The University of Adelaide

Dr David Ellis

Lichtheimia corymbifera

Synonyms: Absidia corymbifera, Mycocladus corymbifera

The genus Lichtheimia (Absidia) is characterized by a differentiation of the hyphae into arched stolons bearing more or less verticillate sporangiophores at the internode, and rhizoids formed at the point of contact with the substrate (at the node). This feature separates species of Lichtheimia (Absidia) from the genus Rhizopus, where the sporangia arise from the nodes and are therefore found opposite the rhizoids. The sporangia are relatively small, globose, pyriform- or pear-shaped and are supported by a characteristic funnel-shaped apophysis. This distinguishes Lichtheimia (Absidia) from the genera Mucor and Rhizomucor, which have large, globose sporangia without an apophysis. The genus Lichtheimia (Absidia) contains four mostly saprophytic plant decaying and soil-borne species. Lichtheimia corymbifera is the principle pathogen causing human and animal infections, however L. ramosa has also been reported as a human pathogen although the species status of this fungus is still controversial.

References: Alatruey-Izquierdo A, et al. 2010. Species recognition and clinical relevance of the Zygomycetous genus Lichtheimia (syn, Absidia pro parte, Mycocladus). J Clin Microbiol 48:2154-2170; Hoffman et al. 2007.  Revision of the genus Absidia (Mucorales, Zygomycetes) based on physiological, phylogenetic, and morphological characters, thermotolerant Absidia spp. form a coherent group, Mycocladiaceae fam. nov.  Mycological Research 111:1169-1183

Absidia corymbifera
Lichtheimia corymbifera showing a typical pyriform-shaped sporangium with a conical-shaped columella and pronounced apophysis.

Colonies are fast growing, floccose, white at first becoming pale grey with age, and up to 1.5 cm high. Sporangiophores are hyaline to faintly pigmented, simple or sometimes branched arising solitary from the stolons, in groups of three, or in whorls of up to seven. Rhizoids are very sparingly produced and may be difficult to find without the aid of a dissecting microscope to examine the colony on the agar surface. Sporangia are small (10-40 um in diameter) and are typically pyriform in shape with a characteristic conical-shaped columella and pronounced apophysis, often with a short projection at the top. Sporangiospores vary from subglobose to oblong-ellipsoidal (3.0-7.0 x 2.5-4.5 um), are hyaline to light grey and are smooth-walled.  Temperature: optimum 35-37C; maximum 45C. RG-2 organism.


MIC data is limited.  Antifungal susceptibility testing of individual strains is recommended.

Antifungal MIC ug/mL Antifungal
MIC ug/mL
Amphotericin B

Clinical significance:

Lichtheimia corymbifera is a common human pathogen, causing pulmonary, rhinocerebral, disseminated, CNS or cutaneous types of infection. It is also often associated with animal disease, especially mycotic abortion. L. corymbifera has a world-wide distribution mostly in association with soil and decaying plant debris.

Mycosis: Zygomycosis

Further reading:

Domsch, K.H., W. Gams, and T.H. Anderson. 1980. Compendium of soil fungi. Volume 1. Academic Press, London, UK.

Kwon-Chung, K.J. and J.E. Bennett. 1992. Medical Mycology. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia and London.