Differential thermotolerance adaptation between species of Coccidioides

Heather L. Mead, Paris S. Hamm, Isaac N. Shaffer, Marcus de Melo Teixeira, Christopher Wendel, Nathan P. Wiederhold, George R. Thompson, Raquel Muñiz-Salazar, Laura Rosio Castañón-Olivares, Paul Keim, Carmel Plude, Joel Terriquez, John N. Galgiani, Marc Joel Orbach, Bridget M. Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coccidioidomycosis, or Valley fever, is caused by two species of dimorphic fungi. Based on molecular phylogenetic evidence, the genus Coccidioides contains two reciprocally monophyletic species: C. immitis and C. posadasii. However, phenotypic variation between species has not been deeply investigated. We therefore explored differences in growth rate under various conditions. A collection of 39 C. posadasii and 46 C. immitis isolates, representing the full geographical range of the two species, were screened for mycelial growth rate at 37ºC and 28ºC on solid media. The radial growth rate was measured over 16 days on yeast extract agar. A linear mixed effect model was used to compare the growth rate of C. posadasii and C. immitis at 37ºC and 28ºC respectively. C. posadasii grew significantly faster at 37ºC, when compared to C. immitis; whereas both species had similar growth rates at 28ºC. These results indicate thermotolerance differs between these two species. As the ecological niche has not been well-described for Coccidioides spp., and disease variability between species has not been shown, the evolutionary pressure underlying the adaptation is unclear. However, this research reveals the first significant phenotypic difference between the two species that directly applies to ecological and clinical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Aug 12 2020


  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Fungal pathogen
  • Growth rate
  • Phenotypic variation
  • Valley fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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