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Microsporum Mold Species

Microsporum species are causative agents of several types of Tinea infections.

(Information from @ 2005)



Taxonomic Classifications


Kingdom: Fungi

Phylum: Ascomycota

Class: Euascomycetes
Order: Onygenales

Family: Arthrodermataceae

Genus: Arthroderma (Nannizia, Microsporum, Epidermophyton, Trichophyton)



Microsporum Mold Pictures


Microsporum species microscopic morphology


A microscopic photograph of Microsporum species taken by our Mold Microbiologist,

Ma. Adee Light E. Hilado for mold species documentation.



Tinea due to M. canis

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


A five week - old baby showing typical Microsporum canis lesions with raised, erythematous advancing borders following contact with several Siamese cats.


For additional Microsporum photo, click: Microsporum Mold Picture


The genus Microsporum includes anthropophilic, geophilic, and zoophilic species.  Some species are cosmopolitan while others have geographically restricted distributions.  Geophilic Microsporum species inhabit the soil, the zoophilic species affect animals, and the anthropophilic species primarily affect humans. However, there are some species that are isolated from both soil and animals.  Microsporum is the asexual state of the fungus and the teleomorph phase is referred to as genus Arthroderma



There are seventeen conventional species under genus Microsporum and among these, there are nine significant species namely, anthropophilic Microsporum audouinii, zoophilic Microsporum canis isolated from cats and dogs, geophilic Microsporum cookei isolated from furs of cats, dogs, and rodents, Microsporum distortum, anthropophilic Microsporum ferrugineum, zoophilic Microsporum gallinae mainly isolated from fowl, zoophilic Microsporum gypseum isolated from fur of rodents, Microsporum nanum which is both geophilic and zoophilic in nature are isolated from swine, and zoophilic Microsporum persicolor isolated from vole and field mouse.  Molecular studies for taxonomic re classification of Microsporum species are still in progress.


Pathogenicity and Health Effects

Microsporum is one of the three genera that cause dermatophytosis which is the general term referring to the infection that occurs in hair, skin or nails caused by any dermatophyte speciesMicrosporum species has the ability to degrade keratin and thus, can dwell on skin and its appendages and still remains non invasive.  The fungus is bestowed with virulence factors such as its keratinase enzyme, proteinases, and elastases.  Microsporum species particularly infect the hair and skin, except for Microsporum persicolor which does not infect the hair.  The pathogenesis of the infection depends on the natural reservoir of the species in such a way that the geophilic species are acquired through contact with soil, zoophilic species are transmitted from the infected animal, and direct or indirect human to human transmission is of concern for anthropophilic species. Infections involving the nails are rare.  Immunocompromised patients are infected as well as the otherwise healthy hosts.


Macroscopic Appearance

     Growth rate may range from being slow to rapid, and colonies are glabrous, downy, or wooly, and diameter varies within 1 9 cm after seven day incubation at 25C;

      Surface colony color ranges from white, beige, to cinnamon or rusty while the reverse may be yellow to red brown; and

      The ability to grow on rice grains, or referred to as the hair perforation test, and also at 37C help in the differentiation of Microsporum species from one another.


Microscopic Appearance

      Septate hyphae, microaleurioconidia, macroaleurioconidia, and hyphae like conidiophores are present;

      Microaleurioconidia are hyaline, solitary, smooth, oval to clavate in shape, unicellular, and thin walled;

      Macroaleurioconidia are hyaline, typically fusiform (spindle in shape), echinulate to roughened, thin to thick walled, multicellular with 2 to 15 cells, often with annular frill; and

      Inoculation on specific media, such as potato dextrose agar or Sabouraud dextrose agar, added with 3 5% sodium chloride may be necessary to promote macroconidia production of some strains; and

      Differences in macroconidia shape and abundance in microconidia aid in species differentiation.


Laboratory Precautions

General laboratory precautions are required, no special safety measures needed.



Availability data on in vitro susceptibility tests for dermatophytes are limited and susceptibility tests are not yet standardized.  Terbinafine and itraconazole show active in vitro against Microsporum species. However, in one of the vitro studies it was observed that this fungus was fungus was found to the least terbinafine susceptible dermatophyte.

Griseofulvin was once the drug of choice for treating infections caused by Microsporum as well as other dermatopyhte induced infections.  However, safer and more effective alternatives are now available and preferred such as oral therapy with terbinafine and itraconazole which are commonly used for treatment of Microsporum infections. 

The mycological information gathered and
organized in this extensive research on different
Pathogenic Molds was sourced out from the list of
informative websites and reference below:

A Clinical Laboratory Handbook: Identifying
Filamentous Fungi by St. Germain, Guy and R. Summerbell.

Browse these Webpages for more information on Microsporum species:

[Microsporum audouinii]
[Microsporum canis]
[Microsporum ferrugineum]
[Microsporum gallinae]
[Microsporum gypseum]
[Microsporum nanum]
[Microsporum persicolor]

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