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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 517529, 11 pages
Review Article

Hyphal Growth in Human Fungal Pathogens and Its Role in Virulence

School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Institute of Medical Sciences, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK

Received 2 August 2011; Accepted 18 August 2011

Academic Editor: Julian R. Naglik

Copyright © 2012 Alexandra Brand. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Most of the fungal species that infect humans can grow in more than one morphological form but only a subset of pathogens produce filamentous hyphae during the infection process. This subset is phylogenetically unrelated and includes the commonly carried yeasts, Candida albicans, C. dubliniensis, and Malassezia spp., and the acquired pathogens, Aspergillus fumigatus and dermatophytes such as Trichophyton rubrum and T. mentagrophytes. The primary function of hypha formation in these opportunistic pathogens is to invade the substrate they are adhered to, whether biotic or abiotic, but other functions include the directional translocation between host environments, consolidation of the colony, nutrient acquisition and the formation of 3-dimensional matrices. To support these functions, polarised hyphal growth is co-regulated with other factors that are essential for normal hypha function in vivo.