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Phialophora Mold Species

Phialophora species is a causative agent of 
Chromoblastomycosis and Phaeohyphomycosis.

(Information from @ 2005)



Taxonomic Classifications


Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota

Class: Euascomycetes
Order: Chaetothyriales
Family: Herpotrichiellaceae

Genus: Phialophora

Phialophora Mold Pictures

Phialophora microscopic morphology

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


Microscopy morphology of a Phialophora sp. showing clusters of single - celled phialoconidia (ameroconidia) produced in basipetal succession from a phialide.  Also take note of the conidia that are not formed in chains but aggregate in slimy heads at the apices of the phialides showing distinctive collarettes.



Phialophora colony morphology

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)

Phialophora verrucosa on Sabouraud's dextrose agar.

Colonies are slow growing, initially dome - shaped,
later becoming flat, suede - like and olivaceous to black in color.


Chromoblastomycosis due to Phialophora verrucosa

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


Chronic verrucose chromoblastomycosis of the foot due to Phialophora verrucosa.


Note tissue hyperplasia characterized by the formation of verrucoid,
warty cutaneous nodules raised 1 to 3 cm above the skin surface. 





Phialophora species is a cosmopolitan, saprobic, dematiaceous filamentous fungus commonly found in soil, decomposing wood, and sub aquatic debris in bodies of cold fresh water.  A dematiaceous fungus is characterized by its darkly colored fungal body called as thallus due to the presence of melanin in the cell walls of its conidia, hyphae, or both.



The genus Phialophora has eight active species namely, Phialophora americana, Phialophora bubakii, Phialophora europaea, Phialophora parasitica, Phialophora reptans, Phialophora repens, Phialophora richardsiae, and Phialophora verrucosa.  Phialophora europaea is a newly introduced species.  The shape of the collarettes, organization of the phialides, existence of chlamydospores are the morphological features that help in differentiation of the species from one another as well as the species biochemical features such as the melibiose assimilation. 


Pathogenicity and Health Effects

Phialophora species are among the causative agents of chromoblastomycosis and phaeohyphomycosis.  Chromoblastomycosis is a chronic subcutaneous infection characterized by verrucous lesions and the formation of brown, sclerotic fission cells which appear similar to copper pennies.  Phialophora verrucosa is the chief causative agent of chromoblastomycosis in tropical and sub tropical areas, especially in Japan and South America.  The genus includes several species as well that are known to cause diverse clinical forms of phaeohyphomycosis which includes arthritis, cerebral infection, cutaneous infections, endocarditis, fatal hemorrhage, keratitis, subcutaneous cysts, osteomyelitis, and disseminated infection.  Additionally, Phialophora europaea has been isolated from cutaneous and nail infections in North - western Europe


Macroscopic Appearance

      Growth rate is moderately slow and the colony texture is wooly to velvety and may be heaped and granular in some isolates;

      Colonies attain a diameter of 2 3 cm. following an incubation at 25C for 7 days; and

      Surface colony color is initially white becoming dark gray green, brown or black while reverse is iron gray to black.


Microscopic Appearance

      Septate hyphae, phialides, and conidia are present;

      The hyphae are hyaline to brown, branched and measures up to 5 m wide;

      Phialides are pale brown to brown in color, typically flask or bottle shaped, are terminally or laterally located on the hyphae, and with varying length;

      Clearly visible collarettes are found at the tips of the phialides and the collarettes shape varies from one species to another; and

      Conidia are hyaline or brown, smooth, unicellular, with diverse shapes ranging from round to oval or cylindrical, and accumulate in masses at the tips of phialides with collarettes giving the appearance of a vase of flowers.


              Table 1. Differences in Microscopic Morphology of Phialophora species


Phialophora species

Differences in Microscopic Appearance

Phialophora parasitica

Phialides are longer than 20 m and spine shaped and collarettes are narrow with almost parallel contours

Phialophora repens

Phialides are shorter than 20 m Collarettes are narrow with almost parallel contours

Phialophora verrucosa

Collarettes are vase shaped

Phialophora richardsiae

Collarettes are saucer - or vase - shaped


Laboratory Precautions

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


Very limited data are available.  The data show that amphotericin B, itraconazole, terbinafine, and voriconazole are active in vitro against Phialophora americana, Phialophora repens, Phialophora richardsiae, and Phialophora verrucosa.  It is also observed that the MICs of amphotericin B and itraconazole are relatively higher for Phialophora parasitica compared to other speciesOn the other hand, voriconazole is active against Phialophora parasitica as well as other Phialophora species.  Also active against Phialophora parasitica is the novel triazole, Syn 2869.  Furthermore, posaconazole shows promising activity against Phialophora species.

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.


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