A model for growth of a single fungal hypha based on well-mixed tanks in series: simulation of nutrient and vesicle transport in aerial reproductive hyphae

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 18;10(3):e0120307. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120307. eCollection 2015.


Current models that describe the extension of fungal hyphae and development of a mycelium either do not describe the role of vesicles in hyphal extension or do not correctly describe the experimentally observed profile for distribution of vesicles along the hypha. The present work uses the n-tanks-in-series approach to develop a model for hyphal extension that describes the intracellular transport of nutrient to a sub-apical zone where vesicles are formed and then transported to the tip, where tip extension occurs. The model was calibrated using experimental data from the literature for the extension of reproductive aerial hyphae of three different fungi, and was able to describe different profiles involving acceleration and deceleration of the extension rate. A sensitivity analysis showed that the supply of nutrient to the sub-apical vesicle-producing zone is a key factor influencing the rate of extension of the hypha. Although this model was used to describe the extension of a single reproductive aerial hypha, the use of the n-tanks-in-series approach to representing the hypha means that the model has the flexibility to be extended to describe the growth of other types of hyphae and the branching of hyphae to form a complete mycelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus / growth & development*
  • Aspergillus / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Computer Simulation
  • Hyphae / growth & development*
  • Hyphae / metabolism
  • Maltose / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Phycomyces / growth & development*
  • Phycomyces / metabolism
  • Rhizopus / growth & development*
  • Rhizopus / metabolism
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism


  • Maltose

Grants and funding

Research scholarships were granted to Wellington Balmant and Juliana Hey Coradin by CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior), a Brazilian government agency for the development of personnel in higher education, and to Nadia Krieger, Agenor Furigo Junior and David Alexander Mitchell by CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico), a Brazilian government agency for the advancement of science. This research was supported by a grant from Fundação Araucária, a funding agency of the state of Paraná. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.