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CURVULARIA Mold Species

The U.S. Government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] lists the following as the health effects of Curvularia: Allergen, Irritant, Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, Dermatitis.


Taxonomic Classifications

Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Euascomycetes
Order: Pleosporales
Family: Pleosporaceae
Genus: Curvularia

Brown hyphae and conidia septate hyphae mature conidia usually have 4 segments,
3rd segment from base (site of attachment) becomes enlarged giving conidia a curved appearance
(Courtesy of http://vtpb-www.cvm.tamu.edu/vtpb/vet_micro/charts_fungi/fungi/curvularia.html)

Picture of culture of Curcularia lunata
Culture of
Curvularia lunata

Picture of conidia of Curcularia lunata
conidia of
Curvularia lunata

Colonies are fast growing, suede-like to downy, brown to blackish brown with a black reverse. Conidia are pale brown, with three or more transverse septa (phragmoconidia) and are formed apically through a pore (poroconidia) in a sympodially elongating geniculate conidiophore similar to Drechslera. Conidia are cylindrical or slightly curved, with one of the central cells being larger and darker. Germination is bipolar and some species may have a prominent hilum. (Courtesy of http://www.mycology.adelaide.edu.au)

Description and  Habitats

Curvularia is a dematiaceous filamentous fungus. Most species of Curvularia are facultative pathogens of soil, plants, and cereals in tropical or subtropical areas, while the remaining few are found in temperate zones. As well as being a contaminant, Curvularia may cause infections in both humans and animals.

Curvularia species are commonly found as a parasites or saprobes (saprophytes) on graminaceous hosts (= grasses and cereals).  The conidia (= spores) are multicelled, pigmented and often slightly curved.   The end cells are often much paler than the central cells.  The conidia are borne in acropetal succession (= youngest at the apex) through tiny pores in the conidiophore wall and are easily dislodged.

Species

Based on the mycological information provided by Mycology Online,  the genus Curvularia contains some 35 species which are mostly subtropical and tropical plant parasites. However, three ubiquitous species have been recovered from human infections, principally from cases of mycotic keratitis; C. lunata, C. pallescens and C. geniculata.

Health Effects

Curvularia  is a dangerous mold can be a cause of human infection, including onychomycosis, keratitis, sinusitis, mycetoma, pneumonia, endocarditis, cerebral abscess, and disseminated infection. 

Picture of Cuvularia mold growing in a mold culture plate.
Cuvularia mold growing in a mold culture plate.
Identifying Filamentous Fungi
by Guy St.-Germain & Richard Summerbell.

 

Macroscopic Features

Curvularia produces rapidly growing, woolly colonies on potato dextrose agar at 25C. From the front, the color of the colony is white to pinkish gray initially and turns to olive brown or black as the colony matures. From the reverse, it is dark brown to black.

Microscopic Features

Septate, brown hyphae, brown conidiophores, and conidia are visualized. Conidiophores are simple or branched and are bent at the points where the conidia originate. This bending pattern is called sympodial geniculate growth. The conidia (8-14 x 21-35 m), which are also called the poroconidia, are straight or pyriform, brown, multiseptate, and have dark basal protuberant hila. The septa are transverse and divide each conidium into multiple cells. The central cell is typically darker and enlarged compared to the end cells in the conidium. The central septum may also appear darker than the others. The swelling of the central cell usually gives the conidium a curved appearance.

The number of the septa in the conidia, the shape of the conidia (straight or curved), the color of the conidia (dark vs pale brown), existence of dark median septum, and the prominence of geniculate growth pattern are the major microscopic features that help in differentiation of Curvularia spp. among each other. For instance, the conidia of Curvularia lunata have 3 septa and 4 cells, while those of Curvularia geniculata mostly have 4 septa and 5 cells.

Laboratory Precautions

No special precautions other than general laboratory precautions are required.

Susceptibility

Very few data are available and there is as yet no standard method for in vitro susceptibility testing of Curvularia spp. Notably, flucytosine yielded very high MICs for Curvularia isolates tested. The MICs of fluconazole were also quite high. In contrast, amphotericin B, ketoconazole, miconazole, itraconazole, and voriconazole showed favorable activity and generated acceptably low MICs for most of the Curvularia isolates tested. Caspofungin also appeared active in vitro against Curvularia lunata.

Treatment modalities for Curvularia infections have not been standardized yet. Amphotericin B, itraconazole, and terbinafine have so far been used to treat Curvularia infections. However, the prognosis is usually poor, particularly for immunocompromised patients. For treatment of allergic sinusitis, surgical treatment and administration of steroids are usually required as well as antifungal therapy. Surgery may be required in other infections as well, such as keratitis and localized cutaneous infections.

The mycological information gathered and organized in this extensive research on the different Pathogenic Molds was  sourced out from the list of websites below:

http://www.osha.gov | http://www.doctorfungus.org | http://www.mycology.adelaide.edu.au | http://www.mycology.net | http://www.dehs.umn.edu | http://www.mold-help.org | http://www.mycology.net | http://www.pfdb.net | http://www.clinical-mycology.com | http://www.botany.utoronto.ca | http://www.med.sc.edu | http://www.tigr.org | http://www.pangloss.ucsfmedicalcenter.org | http://www.dermnz.org | http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov | http://www.wadsworth.org | http://botit.botany.wisc.edu

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