Quantitative assay for farnesol and the aromatic fusel alcohols from the fungus Candida albicans

Cory H.T. Boone, Daniel J. Gutzmann, Jaxon J. Kramer, Audrey L. Atkin, Kenneth W. Nickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Abstract: The dimorphic fungus Candida albicans is a commensal and opportunistic fungal pathogen of humans. It secretes at least four small lipophilic molecules, farnesol and three aromatic fusel alcohols. Farnesol has been identified as both a quorum sensing molecule (QSM) and a virulence factor. Our gas chromatography (GC)-based assay for these molecules exhibits high throughput, prevention of analyte loss by avoiding filtration and rotary evaporation, simultaneous cell lysis and analyte extraction by ethyl acetate, and the ability to compare whole cultures with their cell pellets and supernatants. Farnesol synthesis and secretion were separable phenomena and pellet:supernatant ratios for farnesol were high, up to 12:1. The assay was validated in terms of precision, specificity, ruggedness, accuracy, solution stability, detection limits (DL), quantitation limits (QL), and dynamic range. The DL for farnesol was 0.02 ng/µl (0.09 µM). Measurement quality was assessed by the relative error of the whole culture versus the sum of pellet and supernatant fractions (WPS). C. albicans strain SC5314 grown at 30 °C in complex and defined media (YPD and mRPMI) was assayed in biological triplicate 17 times over 3 days. Farnesol and the three aromatic fusel alcohols can be measured in the same assay. The levels of all four are greatly altered by the growth medium chosen. Significantly, the three fusel alcohols are synthesized during stationary phase, not during growth. They are secreted quickly without being retained in the cell pellet and may accumulate up to mM concentrations. Key points: • Quantitative analysis of both intra- and extracellular farnesol, and aromatic fusel oils. • High throughput, whole culture assay with simultaneous lysis and extraction. • Farnesol secretion and synthesis are distinct and separate events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6759-6773
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number19-20
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Aromatic fusel alcohols
  • Candida albicans
  • Farnesol
  • Fungal signaling
  • Quorum sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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