Pathways of pathogenicity: transcriptional stages of germination in the fatal fungal pathogen

Poppy C S Sephton-Clark, Jose F Muñoz, Elizabeth R Ballou, Christina A Cuomo, Kerstin Voelz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
136 Downloads (Pure)


Rhizopus delemar is an invasive fungal pathogen responsible for the frequently fatal disease mucormycosis. Germination, a crucial mechanism by which infectious spores of Rhizopus delemar cause disease, is a key developmental process that transforms the dormant spore state into a vegetative one. The molecular mechanisms that underpin this transformation may be key to controlling mucormycosis; however, the regulation of germination remains poorly understood. This study describes the phenotypic and transcriptional changes that take place over the course of germination. This process is characterized by four distinct stages: dormancy, isotropic swelling, germ tube emergence, and hyphal growth. Dormant spores are shown to be transcriptionally unique, expressing a subset of transcripts absent in later developmental stages. A large shift in the expression profile is prompted by the initiation of germination, with genes involved in respiration, chitin, cytoskeleton, and actin regulation appearing to be important for this transition. A period of transcriptional consistency can be seen throughout isotropic swelling, before the transcriptional landscape shifts again at the onset of hyphal growth. This study provides a greater understanding of the regulation of germination and highlights processes involved in transforming Rhizopus delemar from a single-cellular to multicellular organism.IMPORTANCE Germination is key to the growth of many organisms, including fungal spores. Mucormycete spores exist abundantly within the environment and germinate to form hyphae. These spores are capable of infecting immunocompromised individuals, causing the disease mucormycosis. Germination from spore to hyphae within patients leads to angioinvasion, tissue necrosis, and often fatal infections. This study advances our understanding of how spore germination occurs in the mucormycetes, identifying processes we may be able to inhibit to help prevent or treat mucormycosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00403-18
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2018


  • RNA-Seq
  • Rhizopus delemar
  • fungi
  • germination
  • mucormycosis
  • pathogens
  • spores
  • time course
  • transcription


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