The influence of congo red on the cell wall and (1----3)-beta-D-glucan microfibril biogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Arch Microbiol. 1992;158(2):115-26. doi: 10.1007/BF00245214.


Congo red was applied to growing yeast cells and regenerating protoplasts in order to study its effects on wall biogenesis and cell morphogenesis. In the presence of the dye, the whole yeast cells grew and divided to form chains of connected cells showing aberrant wall structures on both sides of the septum. The wall-less protoplasts in solid medium with the dye exhibited an abnormal increase in volume, regeneration of aberrant cell walls and inability to carry out cytokinesis or protoplast reversion to cells. In liquid medium, the protoplasts synthesized glucan nets composed mainly of thin fibrils orientated at random, whereas normally, in the absence of dye, the nets consist of rather thick fibrils, 10 to 20 nm in width, assembled into broad ribbons. These fibrils are known to consist of triple 6/1 helical strands of (1----3)-beta-D-glucan aggregated laterally in crystalline packing. The thin fibrils (c. 4 to 8 nm wide) can contain only a few triple helical strands (c. 1.6 nm wide) and are supposed to be prevented from further aggregation and crystallization by complexing with Congo red on their surfaces. Some loose triple 6/1 helical strands (native elementary fibrils) are also discernible. They represent the first native (1----3)-beta-D-glucan elementary fibrils depicted by electron microscopy. The effects of Congo red on growth and the wall structure in normal cells and regenerating protoplasts in solid medium can be explained by the presence of a complex which the dye forms with (helical) chain parts of the glucan network and which results in a loss of rigidity by a blocked lateral interaction between the helices.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure*
  • Congo Red / pharmacology*
  • Culture Media / pharmacology
  • Glucans / biosynthesis*
  • Morphogenesis / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Protoplasts / drug effects
  • Protoplasts / metabolism
  • Protoplasts / ultrastructure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure
  • beta-Glucans*


  • Culture Media
  • Glucans
  • Plant Extracts
  • beta-Glucans
  • Congo Red
  • beta-1,3-glucan