Multi trace element profiling in pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi

Fungal Biol. 2020 May;124(5):516-524. doi: 10.1016/j.funbio.2020.03.001. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Maintaining appropriate levels of trace elements during infection of a host is essential for microbial pathogenicity. Here we compared the uptake of 10 trace elements from 3 commonly-used laboratory media by 3 pathogens, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans and Aspergillus fumigatus, and a model yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The trace element composition of the yeasts, C. albicans, C. neoformans and S. cerevisiae, grown in rich (YPD) medium, differed primarily in P, S, Fe, Zn and Co. Speciation analysis of the intracellular fraction, which indicates the size of the organic ligands with which trace elements are complexed, showed that the ligands for S were similar in the three fungi but there were significant differences in binding partners for Fe and Zn between C. neoformans and S.cerevisiae. The profile for Cu varied across the 3 yeast species. In a comparison of C. albicans and A. fumigatus hyphae, the former showed higher Fe, Cu, Zn and Mn, while A. fumigatus contained higher P, S Ca and Mo. Washing C. albicans cells with the cell-impermeable chelator, EGTA, depleted 50-90 % of cellular Ca, suggesting that a large proportion of this cation is stored in the cell wall. Treatment with the cell wall stressor, Calcofluor White (CFW), alone had little effect on the elemental profile whilst combined Ca + CFW stress resulted in high cellular Cu and very high Ca. Together our data enhance our understanding of trace element uptake by pathogenic fungi and provide evidence for the cell wall as an important storage organelle for Ca.

Keywords: Calcium; Candida albicans; Fungal cell wall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus fumigatus / chemistry
  • Candida albicans / chemistry
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / chemistry
  • Fungi* / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / chemistry
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Trace Elements* / analysis


  • Trace Elements