High-frequency switching of colony morphology in Candida albicans

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Science  08 Nov 1985:
Vol. 230, Issue 4726, pp. 666-669
DOI: 10.1126/science.3901258


The pathogenic yeast Candida albicans switches heritably and at high frequency between at least seven general phenotypes identified by colony morphology on agar. Spontaneous conversion from the original smooth to variant phenotypes (star, ring, irregular wrinkle, hat, stipple, and fuzzy) occurs at a combined frequency of 1.4 X 10(-4), but is increased 200 times by a low dose of ultraviolet light that kills less than 10 percent of the cells. After the initial conversion, cells switch spontaneously to other phenotypes at a combined frequency of 2 X 10(-2). Switching is therefore heritable, but also reversible at high frequency. The genetic basis of this newly discovered process and its possible role in Candida pathogenesis are considered.

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