Growth and pigment production on D-tryptophan medium by Cryptococcus gattii, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Candida albicans

Stuart Chaskes, Susana Frases, Michael Cammer, Gary Gerfen, Arturo Casadevall

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Given the increasing prevalence of cryptococcosis caused by Cryptococcus gattii (serotypes B and C) strains, there is a need for rapid and reliable tests that discriminate C. gattii from Cryptococcus neoformans (serotypes A, D, and AD). Seventy-two C. neoformans strains, sixty-seven C. gattii strains, and five Candida albicans strains were analyzed for their ability to grow and produce pigment on minimal D-tryptophan D-proline (m-DTDP) medium, on yeast carbon base D-tryptophan D-proline (YCB-DTDP) medium, and on fructose D-tryptophan glycine (m-FDTG) medium. Of the C. gattii and C. neoformans isolates, 94% and 0% grew on m-DTDP agar, respectively, and 98% and 0% grew in YCB-DTDP medium, respectively. C. gattii produced large amounts of brown intracellular pigment(s) on m-DTDP agar and smaller amounts of yellow-brown (amber) extracellular pigment(s). C. albicans grew on both media and produced a pink photoactivated pigment on m-DTDP agar. C. gattii produced large amounts of brown intracellular pigments on the differential medium m-FDTG, whereas C. neoformans produced smaller amounts of the brown pigments and C. albicans produced a pink pigment. The pigments produced by C. gattii from D-tryptophan were distinct and were not related to melanin formation from 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine. Thin-layer chromatography of the methanol-extracted C. gattii cells detected four different pigments, including brown (two types), yellow, and pink-purple compounds. We conclude that tryptophan-derived pigments are not melanins and that growth on m-DTDP or YCB-DTDP agar can be used to rapidly differentiate C. gattii from C. neoformans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-264
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)

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