Identification of fungal cell wall mutants using susceptibility assays based on Calcofluor white and Congo red

Nat Protoc. 2006;1(5):2253-6. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.397.


The fungal cell wall is an essential organelle and represents a considerable metabolic investment. Its macromolecular composition, molecular organization and thickness can vary greatly depending on environmental conditions. Its construction is also tightly controlled in space and time. Many genes are therefore involved in building the fungal cell wall. Here we present a simple approach for detecting these genes. The method is based on the observation that cell wall mutants are generally more sensitive to two related anionic dyes, Calcofluor white (CFW) and Congo red (CR), both of which interfere with the construction and stress response of the cell wall. CFW-based and CR-based susceptibility assays identify cell wall mutants not only in ascomycetous yeasts (such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans) but also in mycelial ascomycetes (such as Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus niger), basidiomycetous species (Cryptococcus neoformans) and probably also zygomycetous fungi. The protocol can be completed in 4-6 h (excluding the incubation time required for fungal growth).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzenesulfonates / pharmacology*
  • Cell Wall / drug effects*
  • Coloring Agents / pharmacology*
  • Congo Red / pharmacology*
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Mutation


  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Coloring Agents
  • Congo Red
  • C.I. Fluorescent Brightening Agent 28