The importance of conventional methods: Microscopy and culture

Elizabeth M. Johnson*, Andrew M. Borman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Phenotypic identification of Aspergillus species centres on a careful examination of the colonial and microscopic morphology of an isolate and can commence as soon as a culture has been isolated from a clinical specimen. Colonial form, texture, colour and growth rate is noted. Microscopic mounts are made from the surface growth and a careful examination is made of the spores and spore-bearing structures. Until recently phenotypic morphological and physiological, including extrolite production, criteria were the only characteristics upon which classification and subsequent identification could be made. Even in the current genomic era, classification schemes based on phenotypic methods have proved remarkably resilient. However, variability in the phenotypic characteristics of certain common and important groups such as Aspergillus section Fumigati has led to problems in classification and errors in the literature. For this reason a polyphasic approach incorporating the phenotypic characters of gross and microscopic morphology, physiology, extrolite production and molecular data where all are given due consideration and equal weighting has been suggested as the best approach to species differentiation. It is therefore important that skill levels in the morphological recognition and identification of Aspergillus species are maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAspergillosis
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Diagnosis to Prevention
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789048124084
ISBN (Print)9789048124077
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.


  • Aspergillus
  • Colonial morphology
  • Identification
  • Microscopic morphology
  • Taxonomy


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