C. albicans can grow as a single cell (yeast) or as multicellular filamentous colonies (mycelium) composed of branching, septate hyphae ~2 to 10 |m in diameter (Fig. 19.6.1). In addition, the organism can assume a pseudohyphal morphology, wherein the cells are elongated and linked together like sausages. Cultivation in cornmeal agar stimulates the formation of characteristic thick-walled chlamydospores, which distinguishes C. albicans from other Candida species. The optimal growth temperature is 25° to 37°C. Growth is aerobic. Colonies are usually stark white, but may become cream colored or tan with age. They are glabrous, creamy, or membranous and may have a fringe of submerged hyphae. Colonial morphology, sugar utilization pattern, germ-tube formation, and serologic reactions are useful diagnostic procedures for C. albicans identification. For details on fungus growth, refer to Odds (1988).
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