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Exophiala Mold Species

Exophiala species are causative agents of Mycetoma, Phaeohyphomycosis and Tinea nigra.

(Information from @ 2005)



Taxonomic Classifications


Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Order: Chaetothyriales
Genus: Exophiala


Exophiala Mold Pictures


Picture of Exophiala microscopic morphology from doctor fungus

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


Take note of the microscopic morphology of Exophiala spinifera showing pigmented spine - like conidiophores and clusters of single - celled annelloconidia produced in basipetal succession from an annellide.



Picture of colony morphology of Exophiala

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)

Colony morphology of Exophiala werneckii on Sabouraud's dextrose agar.


Initially colonies are mucoid, yeast-like and shiny black, however, with age they develop abundant aerial mycelia and become dark olivaceous in color.


Picture of Phaeohyphomycosis due to Exophiala spinifera

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


Phaeohyphomycosis lesion in an immunologically compromised patient due to Exophiala spinifera.




Exophiala is a cosmopolitan, dematiaceous fungus isolated from soil, decaying wood material, plants, and surfaces in contact with cool, fresh water.  In addition to being a saprophyte in nature, it is the causative agent of various human infections particularly involving the feet and nails.






The genus Exophiala contains numerous species.  The most common ones are Exophiala castellanii, Exophiala jeanselmei (which currently has two varieties namely: Exophiala jeanselmei var. heteromorpha and Exophiala jeanselmei var. lecanii-corni), Exophiala moniliae, Exophiala pisciphila, Exophiala salmonis, Exophiala spinifera and Exophiala werneckii.


Pathogenicity and Health Effects


Exophiala species are among the fungi - causing infections referred to as phaeohyphomycosis.  Exophiala isolates may cause subcutaneous infections such as mycetoma and chromoblastomycosis.  These infections are usually obtained via traumatic implantation and are associated with the existence of local or systemic immunosuppression, such as organ transplantation.  Cases such as infection and abscess formation in subcutaneous tissues, prosthetic valvular vegetations, fungemia, and disseminated infections due to Exophiala species have also been reported.  Aside from humans, fish are also infected by the neurotropic Exophiala pisciphila.


Macroscopic Appearance


   Growth rate is slow and the texture is mucoid becoming velvety due to short, grayish aerial hyphae formation; and

     Colony surface color is dark brown to olivaceous black while black on the reverse. 



Microscopic Appearance


     Yeast cells are present at the beginning of colony formation and are either unicellular or bicellular and often appear in long chains;

    Pale brown, septate hyphae are eventually formed as the culture matures and which bear conidiogenous cells also referred to as the annellides;

      The annellides are cylindrical or slightly inflated, with brown pigmentation and which typically tapers to form a narrow elongated tip, the entire structure are often slightly differentiated from the vegetative hyphae; and

     Conidia are hyaline or pale brown, ellipsoidal in shape, size ranging from 3 x 3 to 6 m, may either be unicellular or bicellular, and accumulate in clusters at the tip of the annellides or at the sides of the conidiophore



Laboratory Precautions


Only general laboratory precautions are required, no special safety measures needed.




There are a limited data available on a limited number of isolates.  Fluconazole yielded very high MICs for Exophiala jeanselmei while flucytosine and miconazole appeared lower than fluconazole but were still relatively high.  MICs of amphotericin B, ketoconazole, and voriconazole were similar and relatively low.  Itraconazole and terbinafine yielded the lowest MICs.  Exophiala jeanselmei showed decreased susceptibility to both amphotericin B deoxycholate and ABLC in other workers hands.  On the other hand, the echocandin, caspofungin yielded favorable in vitro activity against Exophiala jeanselmei isolates.  Furthermore, MICs of amphotericin B, itraconazole, and voriconazole for Exophiala spiniphera were similar and encouragingly low.

The correlation of in vitro susceptibility with clinical outcome for Exophiala is not yet known.  Combination of surgical and anti fungal treatment is usually done for subcutaneous Exophiala infections as there is no standard treatment yet.  Amphotericin B with or without flucytosine, itraconazole, and terbinafine have been used as well.  The combination of amphotericin B, flucytosine and itraconazole appeared effective in a case with subcutaneous infection due to Exophiala jeanselmei.


The mycological information gathered and organized in this extensive research on different Pathogenic Molds was sourced out from the list of informative websites below: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /  / A Clinical Laboratory Handbook: Identifying Filamentous Fungi by St. Germain, Guy and R. Summerbell.

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