PCR methodology and applications for the detection of human fungal pathogens

Matthew William McCarthy, Thomas J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has emerged as a promising technology for the rapid and reliable detection and identification of medical mycoses. Recent technological advancements – including microarray, multiplex PCR with magnetic resonance, and beacon probes – have mitigated the technical difficulties of performing nucleic amplification in fungi, thereby improving the sensitivity and specificity of PCR-based assays. In this paper, we examine current applications of PCR in the diagnosis of human fungal infections and look ahead to emerging techniques that may play a larger role in molecular diagnostics in the future. Areas covered: This review includes a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of PCR using various clinical specimens, manual versus automated DNA extraction procedures, panfungal versus specific targets, and spectrum of pathogens detected. This is followed by a brief synopsis of species-specific PCR approaches and a more in-depth look at the obstacles to widespread implementation. Expert commentary: The review concludes with a short perspective for the next five years, including the hurdles to standardization and validation, as well as the role of PCR coupled with electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS) or nuclear magnetic resonance for the diagnosis of medical mycoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1036
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • amplicon
  • diagnostics
  • dimorphic fungi
  • mold
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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