G3 (Bethesda). 2021 Aug 7;11(8):jkab208. doi: 10.1093/g3journal/jkab208.
Aspergillus fumigatus causes more than 300,000 life-threatening infections annually and is widespread across varied environments with a single colony producing thousands of conidia, genetically identical dormant spores. Conidia are easily wind-dispersed to new environments where they can germinate and, if inhaled by susceptible hosts, cause disease. Using high-throughput single-cell analysis via flow cytometry we analyzed conidia produced and germinated in nine environmentally and medically relevant conditions (complete medium, minimal medium, high temperature, excess copper, excess iron, limited iron, excess salt, excess reactive oxygen species, and limited zinc). We found that germination phenotypes vary among genetically identical individuals, that the environment of spore production determines the size of spores and the degree of germination heterogeneity, and that the environment of spore production impacts virulence in a Galleria mellonella host.