Scopulariopsis: Introduction, Morphology, Pathogenicity, Lab Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, and Keynotes


Scopulariopsis is a genus of filamentous fungi belonging to the class Ascomycota. It is a widespread and diverse group of fungi found in various environmental niches. Scopulariopsis species (they) are commonly present in soil, decaying organic matter, and indoor environments. The name “Scopulariopsis” is derived from Latin, with “scopula” meaning broom, referring to the brush-like appearance of the conidiophores produced by some species.

Here are some key points about Scopulariopsis:

  1. Morphology: Scopulariopsis fungi typically have septate hyphae (hyphae with crosswalls), and their mycelium can be either white or colored. The genus is characterized by the production of conidiophores with conidia on specialized structures called conidiogenous cells.
  2. Conidia: Conidia are asexual spores produced by them. They are often one-celled and can have various shapes, including oval, ellipsoidal, cylindrical, or fusiform. The conidia are dispersed by air and play a crucial role in the fungal life cycle and spread.
  3. Indoor Fungi: Some Scopulariopsis species are commonly found in indoor environments, especially in damp and poorly ventilated areas. They can be associated with water-damaged buildings, indoor air quality issues, and opportunistic infections in immunocompromised individuals.
  4. Opportunistic Pathogen: While most them are considered saprophytic and non-pathogenic, certain species can act as opportunistic pathogens. They may cause localized infections, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions.
  5. Ecological Role: In natural environments, Scopulariopsis fungi contribute to the decomposition of organic matter, recycling nutrients, and playing a role in nutrient cycling.
  6. Research and Identification: They have been subjects of taxonomic studies and identification, and advances in molecular techniques have facilitated more accurate species identification.
  7. Antifungal Resistance: Some clinical isolates of Scopulariopsis have been reported to show resistance to antifungal drugs, posing challenges in the treatment of infections caused by these fungi.
  8. Industrial Applications: Certain Scopulariopsis species have demonstrated the production of bioactive compounds and enzymes, making them of interest for biotechnological applications.


The morphology of Scopulariopsis species can vary depending on the specific species and environmental conditions. However, here are some general characteristics of Scopulariopsis morphology:

Scopulariopsis colony morphology on Sabouraud dextrose agar (SDA)
Fig. Scopulariopsis colony morphology on Sabouraud dextrose agar (SDA)
  1. Colonies: Scopulariopsis colonies grown on agar media are often fast-growing and can be either white, gray, or colored (e.g., green or brown). The texture of the colony can be cottony or velvety.
  2. Mycelium: Scopulariopsis fungi have septate hyphae, meaning they contain crosswalls, dividing the hyphae into segments. The mycelium can penetrate the substrate, such as soil or decaying organic matter.
  3. Conidiophores: Conidiophores are specialized structures that bear conidia (asexual spores). The conidiophores of Scopulariopsis species are often unbranched and arise from the mycelium. They can be erect or slightly inclined.
  4. Conidiogenous Cells: At the tips of conidiophores, conidiogenous cells are formed. These are the cells responsible for producing conidia. The shape and arrangement of conidiogenous cells can help in distinguishing different species of Scopulariopsis.
  5. Conidia: Conidia are the asexual spores of Scopulariopsis. They are typically one-celled, although some species may produce two-celled or multi-celled conidia. Conidia can have various shapes, such as oval, ellipsoidal, cylindrical, or fusiform. They are often unicellular, hyaline (colorless), and smooth-walled.
  6. Macroconidia and Microconidia: Some species of Scopulariopsis produce both macroconidia (larger conidia) and microconidia (smaller conidia). The size and shape of these conidia can be useful in identifying different species.
  7. Sporodochia: In some species, Scopulariopsis can form sporodochia, which are cushion-like structures that bear conidiophores and conidia on their surface. Sporodochia can give the colony a brush-like appearance.
  8. Sexual Reproduction (Teleomorph): In some cases, sexual reproductive structures may be produced by them. The sexual stage of the fungus is less commonly observed than the asexual (conidial) stage.
Chains of single-celled conidia and conidiophores(annellides) of Scopulariopsis in LPCB Tease mount of culture microscopy
Fig. Chains of single-celled conidia and conidiophores(annellides) of Scopulariopsis in LPCB Tease mount of culture microscopy


They are generally considered opportunistic pathogens, meaning they are capable of causing infections in individuals with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions. Most healthy individuals with intact immune systems are typically not affected by Scopulariopsis infections. However, when the opportunity arises, these fungi can cause localized infections, especially in immunocompromised patients.

Here are some key points about the pathogenicity of Scopulariopsis:

  1. Clinical Infections: Scopulariopsis infections are primarily associated with superficial infections of the skin, nails, and hair. These infections are known as dermatomycoses, and they can manifest as skin rashes, discolored patches, and nail abnormalities.
  2. Onychomycosis: Onychomycosis refers to fungal nail infections, and Scopulariopsis species are among the fungi known to cause this condition. Infected nails can become discolored, thickened, and brittle.
  3. Risk Groups: Individuals who are at higher risk of Scopulariopsis infections include those with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS, organ transplantation, cancer, diabetes, or prolonged use of immunosuppressive medications.
  4. Nosocomial Infections: Scopulariopsis infections can occasionally be acquired in hospital settings or healthcare facilities, especially in patients with severe underlying illnesses and prolonged hospital stays.
  5. Antifungal Resistance: Some clinical isolates of Scopulariopsis have shown resistance to common antifungal drugs, which can complicate treatment and limit therapeutic options.
  6. Management: Treatment of Scopulariopsis infections usually involves antifungal medications, such as topical or systemic agents, depending on the severity and location of the infection.
  7. Prevention: Prevention of Scopulariopsis infections involves maintaining good hygiene practices, especially in healthcare settings. Timely and appropriate management of immunosuppressed patients can also help reduce the risk of infection.

Lab Diagnosis

The laboratory diagnosis of Scopulariopsis infections typically involves the following steps:

  1. Clinical Examination: The process begins with a clinical evaluation of the patient. The healthcare provider examines the affected area (skin, nails, or hair) to observe any characteristic signs of infection, such as discoloration, thickening, or changes in texture.
  2. Sample Collection: To confirm the presence of Scopulariopsis, a sample (specimen) is collected from the affected area. For skin and nail infections, the sample may include nail clippings, skin scrapings, or biopsy samples. For hair infections, the infected hairs are collected.
  3. Microscopy: The collected specimen is examined under a microscope to visualize the fungal elements. For Scopulariopsis, the characteristic conidia (asexual spores) and conidiophores (structures that bear conidia) can be observed in the sample.
  4. Culture: To identify the specific species of Scopulariopsis, the sample is cultured on appropriate fungal growth media, such as Sabouraud dextrose agar (SDA) or potato dextrose agar (PDA). The culture plates are incubated at suitable temperatures (usually around 25-30°C) for several days to allow fungal growth.
  5. Morphological Examination: After incubation, the fungal colonies are examined macroscopically for their appearance, such as color, texture, and growth pattern. Microscopic examination is also performed to observe the conidia and conidiophores, which aid in species identification.
  6. Molecular Identification (if necessary): In some cases, particularly when dealing with rare or difficult-to-identify species, molecular techniques may be employed for more precise identification. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing are used to analyze specific genetic markers for accurate species determination.
  7. Antifungal Susceptibility Testing (if necessary): In cases of suspected antifungal resistance or to guide appropriate treatment, antifungal susceptibility testing may be performed. This involves assessing the sensitivity of the isolated fungus to various antifungal drugs.


The treatment of Scopulariopsis infections can be challenging, especially in cases where the infection is persistent or has become invasive. The choice of treatment depends on the site and severity of the infection, as well as the overall health of the patient. Here are the general treatment approaches for Scopulariopsis infections:

  1. Topical Antifungals: For superficial infections of the skin, nails, or hair, topical antifungal medications are often the first-line treatment. These may include antifungal creams, lotions, or nail lacquers that are applied directly to the affected area.
  2. Oral Antifungals: In cases of more severe or widespread infections, oral antifungal drugs may be prescribed. Commonly used oral antifungals include itraconazole, fluconazole, voriconazole, and terbinafine. The choice of drug depends on the site and extent of the infection, as well as the patient’s overall health and any drug interactions or contraindications.
  3. Combination Therapy: In some cases, a combination of topical and oral antifungal treatment may be used, especially for challenging or chronic infections.
  4. Surgical Interventions: In certain situations, surgical interventions may be necessary, especially for invasive or deeply seated infections. Surgical removal of infected tissues (debridement) can aid in reducing the fungal load and facilitating antifungal treatment.
  5. Antifungal Susceptibility Testing: In cases where the infection is not responding to standard antifungal treatment, antifungal susceptibility testing can help identify the most effective antifungal drug for the specific strain of Scopulariopsis.
  6. Management of Underlying Conditions: In immunocompromised patients or individuals with underlying health conditions, managing the primary condition is essential to improve the response to antifungal treatment.
  7. Prevention of Recurrence: To prevent recurrence of Scopulariopsis infections, it is essential to maintain good hygiene and foot care, especially for nail infections. Avoiding exposure to potentially contaminated environments can also reduce the risk of reinfection.


Preventing Scopulariopsis infections involves taking certain measures to minimize exposure to the fungus and maintaining good hygiene practices. Here are some preventive measures:

  1. Personal Hygiene: Practice good personal hygiene, including regular handwashing with soap and water. Keep your skin clean and dry, especially in areas prone to fungal infections.
  2. Foot Care: For individuals susceptible to toenail infections (onychomycosis), proper foot care is essential. Trim toenails straight across, keep them short, and avoid injuring the nails. Wear well-fitting shoes and moisture-wicking socks to keep feet dry.
  3. Avoid Contaminated Environments: Be cautious in damp and poorly ventilated areas, as these environments can harbor fungal spores. Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like gym showers, pools, and locker rooms.
  4. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation in indoor environments, as increased humidity can promote fungal growth. Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to reduce moisture levels.
  5. Dry and Clean Environment: Keep living spaces, bathrooms, and kitchens clean and dry. Promptly address any water leaks or water damage to prevent the growth of fungi.
  6. Proper Wound Care: Treat wounds and cuts promptly to reduce the risk of infection.
  7. Footwear and Clothing: Avoid wearing damp or wet shoes and clothing for prolonged periods. Allow shoes and athletic equipment to dry thoroughly between uses.
  8. Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Refrain from sharing personal items like towels, socks, and shoes with others, as this can spread fungal infections.
  9. Appropriate Footwear: Choose breathable footwear made of materials that allow air circulation and moisture evaporation.
  10. Regular Health Check-ups: Individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions should undergo regular health check-ups to monitor and manage their health status effectively.
  11. Treatment of Underlying Conditions: Properly manage and treat underlying health conditions, as individuals with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of fungal infections.
  12. Use Antifungal Powder or Spray: In areas prone to fungal infections, such as feet or other skin folds, the use of antifungal powders or sprays can help prevent fungal growth.


Here are some keynotes on Scopulariopsis:

  1. Genus: It is a genus of filamentous fungi belonging to the class Ascomycota.
  2. Environmental Distribution:They are commonly found in soil, decaying organic matter, and indoor environments.
  3. Morphology: Scopulariopsis fungi have septate hyphae and produce conidiophores with conidia on specialized structures.
  4. Conidia: Conidia are asexual spores produced by Scopulariopsis. They can have various shapes, including oval, ellipsoidal, cylindrical, or fusiform.
  5. Opportunistic Pathogen: It is generally considered an opportunistic pathogen, causing infections in immunocompromised individuals.
  6. Clinical Infections: Scopulariopsis infections primarily manifest as superficial infections of the skin, nails, and hair.
  7. Onychomycosis: They are known to cause onychomycosis, which is a fungal infection of the nails.
  8. Risk Groups: Those at higher risk of Scopulariopsis infections include individuals with weakened immune systems due to conditions like HIV/AIDS, organ transplantation, cancer, diabetes, or immunosuppressive medications.
  9. Antifungal Resistance: Some clinical isolates of Scopulariopsis have shown resistance to antifungal drugs, which can complicate treatment.
  10. Diagnosis: Laboratory diagnosis involves microscopy, culture, and, in some cases, molecular techniques for species identification.
  11. Treatment: Treatment includes topical or oral antifungal medications, and surgical interventions may be necessary for invasive infections.
  12. Prevention: Preventive measures include maintaining good hygiene, foot care, and avoiding exposure to contaminated environments.
  13. Clinical Significance: While less virulent compared to other pathogens, Scopulariopsis requires careful management in immunocompromised patients to prevent complications.
  14. Research: They are subjects of taxonomic studies and may have potential applications in biotechnology.

Further Readings

  1. Revankar, S. G., & Sutton, D. A. (2010). Melanized fungi in human disease. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 23(4), 884-928.
  2. Sigler, L., & Carmichael, J. W. (1976). Taxonomy of Malloch’s Scopulariopsis species and their teleomorphs. Canadian Journal of Botany, 54(8), 946-977.
  3. Coloe, P. J., & Walker, M. J. (1984). Scopulariopsis brumptii infection in a compromised host. Medical mycology, 22(2), 123-126.
  4. García-Martos, P., Perea, E. J., & Mingorance, J. (1996). In-vitro activity of fluconazole and voriconazole against clinical isolates of Scopulariopsis brevicaulis. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 38(3), 518-520.
  5. Rippon, J. W. (1988). Medical Mycology: The Pathogenic Fungi and the Pathogenic Actinomycetes (3rd ed.). W.B. Saunders Company.
  6. Larone, D. H. (2011). Medically Important Fungi: A Guide to Identification (5th ed.). ASM Press.
  7. Richardson, M. D., & Warnock, D. W. (Eds.). (1993). Fungal Infection: Diagnosis and Management. Blackwell Scientific Publications.
  8. Gupta, A. K., & Daigle, D. (2003). Onychomycosis. Dermatologic Clinics, 21(3), 501-507.
  9. Nenoff, P., Krüger, C., Ginter-Hanselmayer, G., & Tietz, H. J. (2014). Mycology—An update. Part 2: Dermatomycoses: Clinical picture and diagnostics. Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft, 12(9), 749-777.

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