Penicillium marneffei was first isolated from the liver of a bamboo rat (Rhizomys sinensis) in Vietnam in 1956; subsequently it was characterized and named in honor of Hubert Marneffe, the Director of the Pasteur Institute of Indochina. With the development of HIV pandemic, the incidence of penicilliosis increased rapidly, and the infection became one of the most common AIDS-defining illnesses (Duong 1996; Angus et al. 2011).

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Penicillium species are usually regarded as unimportant in terms of causing human disease. Penicillium marneffei, discovered in 1956, is different. This is the only known thermally dimorphic species of Penicillium, and it can cause a lethal systemic infection (penicilliosis) with fever and anaemia similar to disseminated cryptococcosis.

The common feature of dimorphic fungal pathogens, such as P. marneffei, is the temperature-dependent phase transitions which reproduce the mycelial saprotrophic form at 25°C and the yeast-like pathogenic form at 37°C. At 25°C, it grows vegetatively as mycelia and shows typical multinuclear mold morphology; at 37°C, the fungus undergoes a phase transition with concomitant coupling of nuclear and cellular division to form uninucleate, single-celled yeasts. The phase transition is of particular interest because the yeast cell is the in vivo form that capably evades the host immune system—i.e., the phase transition is a requisite for pathogenesis of P. marneffei.

Expression data have been submitted to the GEO database ( with accession number GSE48898.