Effect of Estrogen on Morphological Change in Candida albicans and Neurospora crassa

Faculty Sponsor

Patrice Bouyer




College of Nursing and Health Professions/ Health Science- PA Program

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type


Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


Within the human intestine, opportunistic pathogens, like Candida albicans (C. albicans), live in symbiosis with the host. Under certain stresses, C. albicans can change its morphology from yeast to filamentous and invade the body. During sepsis, estrogen levels dramatically increases, and are associated with poor patient outcome. We hypothesize that high estrogen levels may cause filamentous growth in C. albicans. Morphological changes in the filamentous fungus, Neurospora crassa, have been well characterized therefore, in addition to C. albicans we are using Neurospora as a model to test gut environmental factors on morphology.

C. albicans, was grown on liquid media YEPD, whereas Neurospora was grown on agar plates. Estrogen (1 µM, 1 nM, and 0.1 nM) was added to either the liquid media or to the plate and morphological changes were assayed by light microscopy.

Our preliminary data show that we are able to induce morphological change in C. albicans with N-acetyl-D-Glucamine, a positive control. In one experimental series, we tested increasing concentration of estrogen (0.1 nM, 1 nM and 1 µM) on filamentous growth in C. albicans and did not find a significant effect of estrogen compared to control (ANOVA P = 0.8, n = 8). Exposing Neurospora to 1 µM and 1 nM of estrogen caused Neurospora to grow more densely and erratically . Conversely, 0.1 nM estrogen caused Neurospora to grow not as dense but branch out farther onto the plate (triplicate experiment).

We have established experimental conditions to test the effect of estrogen on both C. albicans and Neurospora’s morphological changes. This will allow for rapid screening of other factors that may be prone to causing morphological changes, such as inflammatory cytokines.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Idalia Zachara is a first year student in the Health Science, Physician Assistant Program. Being on the path to a career in the medical field, she was very excited to be accepted to join Dr. Bouyer's research lab which studies various pathogens that live within the human body. Idalia credits her grandparents for encouraging her to be interested in health and biology as well as natural medicine. She hopes that her contribution in the lab can result in greater understanding of the pathogens being studied, such as Candida albicans, and teach her important knowledge for her future as a health professional.

Paige Camp, Chase Jones, and Hamza Hasan are all part of Dr. Bouyer's lab as well, and authors of this project.

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