Candida albicans survival and biofilm formation under starvation conditions

Int Endod J. 2013 Jan;46(1):62-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2591.2012.02094.x. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Aim: To investigate the survival and biofilm formation capacity of Candida albicans in starvation and under anaerobic conditions.

Methodology: Candida albicans growth and survival were monitored in vitro for up to 8 months. Fungal suspensions from late exponential, stationary and starvation phases were incubated on human dentine, polystyrene and glass slides. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to observe the process of biofilm formation. 2,3-bis(2-Methoxy-4-nitro-5-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium-5-carboxyanilide inner salt (XTT) reduction assay was performed to quantify the biofilm formation capability, and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) was used to study and make semi-quantitative comparisons of the ultrastructure of biofilms formed on human dentine. 'XTT bioactivity' and 'COMSTAT results' were analysed by two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and one-way ANOVA, respectively.

Results: Candida albicans survived for over six months. SEM demonstrated that starving C. albicans produced mature biofilms on different substrata. C. albicans of the same growth phase incubated on human dentine displayed significantly higher biofilm formation capability than on polystyrene or glass slides (P < 0.05). Biofilm formation capability by starving cells was significantly lower than that in exponential or stationary phases (P < 0.05). CLSM revealed that biofilms formed by starvation-phase cells were less complex, had a higher roughness coefficient and surface/volume ratio (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Candida albicans cells can survive and form biofilms in anaerobic and nutrient-limited conditions and may pose a treatment challenge.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biofilms / classification
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / physiology
  • Candida albicans / ultrastructure
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dentin / microbiology
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Microbial Viability
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Mycology / methods
  • Polystyrenes
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Time Factors


  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Polystyrenes
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • 2,3-bis(2-methoxy-4-nitro-5-sulfophenyl)-5-((phenylamino)carbonyl)-2H-tetrazolium hydroxide