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School of Molecular & Biomedical Science
The University of Adelaide
AUSTRALIA 5005

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Dr David Ellis
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Cunninghamella bertholletiae

The genus Cunninghamella is characterized by white to grey, rapidly growing colonies, producing erect, straight, branching sporangiophores. These sporangiophores end in globose or pyriform-shaped vesicles from which several one-celled, globose to ovoid, echinulate or smooth-walled develop on swollen denticles. Chlamydoconidia and zygospores may also be present. Cunninghamella species are mainly soil fungi of the Mediterranean and subtropical zones, and less commonly in temperate regions. The genus now contains seven species, with C. bertholletiae the only species known to cause disease in man and animals.

Colonies on Sabouraud's agar are very fast growing, white at first, but becoming rather dark grey and powdery with development. Sporangiophores to 20 um wide, straight, with verticillate or solitary branches. Vesicles subglobose to pyriform with the terminal ones up to 40 um and the lateral ones 10 to 30 um in diameter. Sporangiola are globose (7-11 um diameter), ellipsoidal (9-13 x 6-10 um), verrucose or short-echinulate, hyaline singly but brownish in mass. Temperature: optimum 25-30C; maximum up to 50C.  RG-2 organism.

Cunninghamella bertholletiae
Cunninghamella bertholletiae showing simple sporangiophores forming a swollen, terminal vesicle around which single-celled, globose to ovoid sporangiola develop on swollen denticles.

 

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

Antifungal MIC ug/mL Antifungal
MIC ug/mL
Range
MIC90
Range
MIC90
Itraconazole
0.125-4
2
Amphotericin B
0.125-8
2
Voriconazole
8->64
>64
Posaconazole
0.03-1
1

 

Clinical significance:

Cunninghamella bertholletiae is a rare cause of zygomycosis in humans often associated with trauma and immunosuppression. It is a common soil fungus with a worldwide distribution.

Mycosis: Zygomycosis

Further reading:

Rippon, J.W. 1988. Medical Mycology. 3rd Edition. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, USA..