Editor: José R.-Herrera

Dimorphic Fungi: Their Importance as Models for Differentiation and Fungal Pathogenesis

eBook: US $34 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $136
Printed Copy: US $119
Library License: US $136
ISBN: 978-1-60805-510-4 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-60805-364-3 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2012
DOI: 10.2174/97816080536431120101


Dimorphism can be defined as the property of different fungal species to grow in the form of budding yeasts or in the form of mycelium, depending on the environmental conditions. Dimorphism may be considered as a differentiative phenomenon, similar to others exhibited by fungi: spore germination, sporulation, etc, but comparatively simple to analyze.

Fungal dimorphism involves extensive changes in the cell physiology and morphology in response to external signals, producing drastic alterations in the cell wall structure and synthesis, whose growth pattern changes from isodiametric (spherical) to polarized or vice versa. Because of this, dimorphism has been the subject of extensive studies as a model for the differentiation processes occurring in eukaryotic organisms.

Additionally, it is important to recall that the most important human pathogenic fungi, and some plant pathogenic ones are dimorphic, displaying different morphologies when growing as saprophytes, or inside their hosts. This observation, and the demonstration that mutants in specific genes that interfere with the dimorphic transition are non-virulent, has suggested that this process might be a target for efficient antimycotic drugs.

This e-book includes several chapters on the most important and studied fungal models, written by specialists, discussing the biology of each species or genera, the general aspects controlling their dimorphic transition, the molecular aspects involved, the use of them as models for understanding the bases of biochemical and cell differentiation, and the importance of dimorphism in pathogenesis.

This e-book is recommended for scholars and researchers working or interested in human, animal and plant pathogenesis, fungal genetics, molecular biology, development, evolution, and differentiation.

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Science Edition, BIOSIS Previews, Scopus, EBSCO.


“Fungal dimorphism” refers to the ability of some fungal species to grow under two morphological forms, feature that has fascinated the scientists for almost a Century. The original interest in fungal dimorphism was associated to pathogenesis but it is now clear that it implies something much more important than the exclusive study of the final morphology of the fungal cells. The original definition overlooks the importance of dimorphism as a process of cellular differentiation. We can inquire which mechanisms are involved in the morphological changes and the possibilities are that certain genes are expressed only in a specific morphology or that the gene products are assembled in the cell wall in a different way to give an alternative molecular architecture. Only an in deep understanding of the processes involved in dimorphism will be possible with development of a wide-ranging list of experimental procedures combined together with the new genetic techniques, the rapid access to genomic information and bioinformatic analyses of many of these fungal species. It can be said that the new information collected literally forged a new frontier of research for understanding the molecular nature and the control of the fungal dimorphism. The aim of this eBook is to present in a single volume a review as current as possible of dimorphism among fungi. It addresses the actual state of art on relevant aspects of dimorphism in a few fungal species by different authors as it is increasingly clear that reviewing this subject adequately is probably beyond the capability of a single author. The text is organized in a way that attempts to enhance readability and should be of interest not only to those doing research in this specific area (including detection of potential targets for development of new antifungal drugs), but also to those interested in other aspects of fungal cells and for those in general biology.

Rafael Sentandreu
Facultat de Farmacia
Universitat de Valencia


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