Multi trace element profiling in pathogenic and non-pathogenic fungi

Silvia Wehmeier, Emma Morrison, Anthony Plato, Andrea Raab, Jörg Feldmann, Tina Bedekovic, Duncan Wilson, Alexandra C. Brand* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-524
Number of pages9
JournalFungal Biology
Issue number5
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note


SW and EM were funded by an MRC NIRG to AB (G0900211/90671). AP was funded by a British Mycological Society Summer Studentship. AB was funded by a Royal Society URF (UF080611) and a Senior Wellcome Research Fellowship (206412/A/17/Z), which also funded TB. DW was funded by a Senior Wellcome Research Fellowship (214317/A/18/Z). The work was carried out in the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (MR/N006364/2). This article is part of the Fungal Adaptation to Hostile Challenges special issue for the third International Symposium on Fungal Stress (ISFUS), which is supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo grant 2018/20571-6 and the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior grant 88881.289327/2018-01.


  • Calcium
  • Candida albicans
  • Fungal cell wall
  • ZINC
  • GENE


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