Candida albicans growing as yeast cells and filamentous (hypha) cells

Dimorphic fungi are fungi that can exist in the form of both mold[1] and yeast. This is usually brought about by change in temperature and the fungi are also described as thermally dimorphic fungi.[2] An example is Talaromyces marneffei,[3] a human pathogen that grows as a mold at room temperature, and as a yeast at human body temperature.

The term dimorphic is commonly used for fungi that can grow both as yeast and filamentous cells, however many of these dimorphic fungi actually can grow in more than these two forms. Dimorphic is thus often used as a general reference for fungi being able to switch between yeast and filamentous cells, but not necessary limiting more shapes.[4][a]

Ecology of dimorphic fungi

Several species of dimorphic fungi are important pathogens of humans and other animals, including Coccidioides immitis,[a][5] Paracoccidioides brasiliensis,[a][5] Candida albicans,[6][a] Blastomyces dermatitidis[a],[4] Histoplasma capsulatum,[a][4] Sporothrix schenckii,[a][4] and Emmonsia sp.[7] Some diseases caused by the fungi are:

Many other fungi, including the plant pathogen Ustilago maydis[6] and the cheesemaker's fungus Geotrichum candidum also have dimorphic life cycles.


In medical mycology, these memory aids help students remember that among human pathogens, dimorphism largely reflects temperature:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h e.g. Candida albicans, Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, Sporothrix schenckii, Histoplasma capsulatum and Coccidioides immitis are commonly referred to as being dimorphic, however they can be seen as pleomorphic or polyphenic as they can adopt more morphologies than just yeast or filamentous cells.[8][4]


  1. ^ "Fungi". Archived from the original on June 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  2. ^ Gauthier, GM (May 2017). "Fungal Dimorphism and Virulence: Molecular Mechanisms for Temperature Adaptation, Immune Evasion, and In Vivo Survival". Mediators Inflamm. 2017: 8619307. doi:10.1155/2017/8619307. PMC 5463159. PMID 28626346.
  3. ^ Chandler JM, Treece ER, Trenary HR, et al. (2008). "Protein profiling of the dimorphic, pathogenic fungus, Penicillium marneffei". Proteome Sci. 6 (1): 17. doi:10.1186/1477-5956-6-17. PMC 2478645. PMID 18533041.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kerridge, D.; Odds, F. C.; Bossche, Hugo Vanden (2012). Dimorphic Fungi in Biology and Medicine. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4615-2834-0.
  5. ^ a b "Dimorphic Fungi". Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  6. ^ a b Sánchez-martínez, Cristina; Pérez-martín, José (2001). "Dimorphism in fungal pathogens: Candida albicans and Ustilago maydis—similar inputs, different outputs". Current Opinion in Microbiology. 4 (2): 214–221. doi:10.1016/S1369-5274(00)00191-0. PMID 11282479.
  7. ^ Kenyon, Chris; Bonorchis, Kim; Corcoran, Craig; Meintjes, Graeme; Locketz, Michael; Lehloenya, Rannakoe; Vismer, Hester F.; Naicker, Preneshni; Prozesky, Hans; van Wyk, Marelize; Bamford, Colleen; du Plooy, Moira; Imrie, Gail; Dlamini, Sipho; Borman, Andrew M.; Colebunders, Robert; Yansouni, Cedric P.; Mendelson, Marc; Govender, Nelesh P. (2013). "A Dimorphic Fungus Causing Disseminated Infection in South Africa". New England Journal of Medicine. 369 (15): 1416–1424. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1215460. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 24106934. S2CID 15865.
  8. ^ Noble, Suzanne M.; Gianetti, Brittany A.; Witchley, Jessica N. (February 2017). "Candida albicans cell-type switching and functional plasticity in the mammalian host". Nature Reviews Microbiology. 15 (2): 96–108. doi:10.1038/nrmicro.2016.157. ISSN 1740-1534. PMC 5957277. PMID 27867199.