First person to use this name on MO: Katie Ransohoff
Name: Lichtheimia corymbifera
Author: (Cohn) Vuill.
Lichtheimia corymbifera (which was called Absidia corymbifera until 2009, and are also known as Myocladus coryimbifer) is a saprobic zygomycete fungus, meaning it is largely a decomposer. The fact that it is a decomposer contributes to its ability to survive all around the globe in many types of habitats. L. corymbifera is mostly found in soil, underground, or in the air, and can also survive in humans and other mammals, making it one of the only infectious members of the phylum Zygomycota.
Identification of the fungus in nature is difficult. It is microscopic, but observational studies can demonstrate some of the interesting morphological feature of this interesting fungus. Hyphae, which are branched structures for fungi, contain stalks called sporangiophores, at the end of which are spore-containing structures. The spores of L. corymbifera are black in color and held inside a pear-shaped structure called a pyriform sporangia. Spores, which distribute genetic material for a new organism to grow, are distributed when this pyfirom sporangia bursts. When the spores are released, a remaining “collarette,” like a hat, may remain on the stalk that they were sitting on.
If L. corymbifera is found in nature it can be taken to the laboratory to grow in culture on agar. The cultures grow best at temperatures of 35-37 degrees Celsius.
The optimal growth temperature for L. corymbifera is in the range of 35-37 degrees Celsius, which is close to human body temperature, 37 degrees Celsius. In agar culture, L. corymbifera forms white (initially) or gray (as time passes) colonies. Colonies grow to around 3-9cm in around 7. Once mature, cultures are gray-white on top, due to the spores, and whitish underneath. Furthermore, this fungus can be grown on bread cultures. One issue with using culture for diagnostic purposes is that L. corymbifera is a common lab contaminant, which means that growth in culture is not necessarily indicative of presence in the sample.
The last place that L. coryimbifera can be found is in mammals, where it causes infections of a variety of organ systems. Since L. corymbifera grows in soil, decaying grass, or hay it is a common infectious agent in farm animals such as cows and horses, where it can cause death rather quickly if untreated. L. corymbifera can also infect people; however, most people with normal immune systems will not be infected with this fungus simply by being near it or playing in the soil. Rather, it is an “opportunistic pathogen” meaning that it can only infect (and harm) someone with a weakened immune system, from diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(AIDS), diabetes, certain types of blood cancers such as leukemia or large open skin wounds such as those caused by burns. When humans are infected, treatment can be difficult. Antifungal drugs such as amphotericin B are effective, but side effects can be negative.
Created: 2010-11-10 14:42:28 PST (-0800) by Katie Ransohoff (kjransohoff)
Last modified: 2010-11-26 13:41:23 PST (-0800) by Katie Ransohoff (kjransohoff)
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