Antifungal activity of rhamnolipids against dimorphic fungi

J Gen Appl Microbiol. 2016 Nov 25;62(5):233-239. doi: 10.2323/jgam.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


In this paper, rhamnolipids are investigated, for the first time, for their feasibility for inhibiting dimorphic fungi. Rhamnolipids were found to effectively inhibit a dimorphic fungus isolated from tomato plants which was identified as Mucor circinelloides according to characterizations by morphologies as well as 28S rDNA sequences. Rhamnolipids markedly reduced growth of this fungus in both the yeast-like form and the filamentous form. Such an inhibitive effect was similarly obtained with Verticillium dahliae, a representative member of dimorphic fungi, confirming the effectiveness of rhamnolipids in the two growth forms of dimorphic fungi. Interestingly, rhamnolipids showed a greater inhibitive function in the case of the pathogenic growth mode of dimorphic fungi, such as the mycelium growth for M. circinelloides and the yeast-like growth for V. dahliae, than their non-pathogenic modes. The use of rhamnolipids might greatly reduce the frequently-reported drugresistance to the common anti-fungal agents by deterring the possible switch between the two modes of dimorphic fungi. Overall, rhamnolipids as environment-friendly biocontrol agents have a potential use in protecting plants from dimorphic fungi infections, and could also offer guidance toward future research into controlling dimorphic disease infection in humans.

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Control Agents / pharmacology
  • Glycolipids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mucor / drug effects*
  • Mucor / genetics
  • Mucor / growth & development
  • Mucor / isolation & purification
  • Mycelium / drug effects
  • Solanum lycopersicum / microbiology
  • Verticillium / drug effects*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Biological Control Agents
  • Glycolipids
  • rhamnolipid