Fungus Culture – Respiratory

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Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Fungus culture

Any of: Bronchial washings, sputum, bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL)


Sterile container

Submission and Collection Notes


Indicate the following on the General Test Requisition Form:

  • If the patient is at high risk for invasive fungal infection
  • If the patient is in ICU, has had a transplant, malignancy or is otherwise immunocompromised.

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Place specimen in a biohazard bag and seal. Store specimen at 4°C and ship ASAP after collection.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Fungus culture is set up daily Monday to Friday.

Turnaround Time for microscopy: 2 days from receipt by PHO laboratory

Turnaround Time for culture: negative cultures are held for 28 days

Turnaround Time for Identification of isolates: dependent on the organism(s)

Test Methods

Fungal culture and microscopy:

  • Fungal culture Identification uses various conventional methods, including microscopic morphology, biochemical reactions, and growth temperature and culture characteristics. Molecular methods will be used when needed.
  • High Risk individuals will have enhanced identification to genus species level.
  • For Non-High Risk patients, without clinical information, culture will be focused on identifying the dimorphic fungi and Cryptococcus neoformans.
  • Microscopy uses Calcofluor White Stain. 
    • Calcofluor White is a non-specific fluorochrome that binds to the chitin in the cell wall of fungi and fluoresces blue-white under ultraviolet microscopy. 


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

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Updated 20 July 2020