Introduction to Mucormycetes

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fungal Infections in Humans. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Introduction to Mucormycetes

Mucormycetes (formerly known as the Zygomycetes) grow extremely rapidly both in vivo and in culture. They are often called "lid lifters" because of their fluffy and voluminous aerial mycelia that can lift the lid off of plates whose lids aren't taped on. Their hyphae are broad and have few septae, making them floppy and ribbonlike. Their branching is infrequent, haphazard, and nondichotomous (not comparable). Extreme care must be taken not to grind specimens prior to culture if zygomycosis is a consideration, as the grinding process can disrupt all of the viable hyphae. Instead, tissue specimens should be minced.
The most common types that cause mucormycosis are Rhizopus species and Mucor species. Distinct morphological features permit the identification of Mucormycetes and distinguish them from hyaline and dematiaceous molds. Of note, it is important to document the presence or absence of rootlike structures called rhizoids, and their location, and to determine whether the sporangiophores are branched or unbranched (simple).
45. CDC/Georg. Image #3959. Under a magnification of 200X, this lactophenol blue-stained photomicrograph revealed ultrastructural morphology exhibited by a Mucor sp. fungal organism. PHIL public domain. Created 1955. Accessed January 14, 2023. https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=3959

45. Lactophenol cotton blue prep of Mucor species.