Spectrum of zygomycete species identified in clinically significant specimens in the United States

E. Alvarez, D. A. Sutton, J. Cano, A. W. Fothergill, A. Stchigel, M. G. Rinaldi, J. Guarro

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123 Scopus citations


Several members of the order Mucorales (subphylum Mucoromycotina) are important agents of severe human infections. The identification of these fungi by using standard mycologic methods is often difficult and time consuming. Frequently, the etiological agent in clinical cases is reported either as a Mucor sp., which is not the most frequent genus of zygomycetes, or only as a member of the Mucorales. For this reason, the actual spectrum of species of zygomycetes and their incidences in the clinical setting is not well known. The goals of this study were to compare the results of the molecular identification of an important set of clinical isolates, received in a mycological reference center from different regions of the United States, with those obtained by using the traditional morphological methods and to determine the spectrum of species involved. We tested 190 isolates morphologically identified as zygomycetes by using sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal DNA. Molecular identification revealed that Rhizopus oryzae represented approximately half (44.7%) of these isolates. The remainder was identified as Rhizopus microsporus (22.1%), Mucor circinelloides (9.5%), Mycocladus corymbifer (formerly Absidia corymbifera) (5.3%), Rhizomucor pusillus (3.7%), Cunninghamella bertholletiae (3.2%), Mucor indicus (2.6%), Cunninghamella echinulata (1%), and Apophysomyces elegans (0.5%). The most common anatomic sites for clinically significant zygomycetes, as determined by isolates sent to the Fungus Testing Laboratory for identification and/or susceptibility testing and included in this study, were the sinuses, lungs, and various cutaneous locations, at 25.8%, 26.8%, and 28%, respectively. These sites represented approximately 80% of the isolates evaluated. A high level of correlation (92.6%) between morphological and molecular identifications was found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1656
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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