Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



The fungal organism Candida albicans is a nearly ubiquitous commensal inhabitant of the human body. However, in susceptible individuals it can establish mucosal infections as well as life-threatening systemic infection. We are investigating a key contributor to C. albicans’ pathogenesis: its ability to switch among multiple growth forms in response to an array of environmental signals. We hypothesize that this ability to undergo morphological transitions mediates its ability to disseminate from localized infections to system-wide bloodstream infection. Using a transparent zebrafish embryo model of infection, we have directly assessed specific contributions of C. albicans’ morphologies in the process of tissue-to-bloodstream dissemination. We have observed that yeast is the primary form of C. albicans within the bloodstream. We have demonstrated that hyphae are not required for dissemination in our model, but they play an important role in promoting yeast cell dissemination. It is our expectation that further elucidation of the roles of morphological transitions will permit the development of more effective therapies to prevent C. albicans-related mortality in susceptible individuals.