The interconversions of mycelial and yeast-like forms (M ⇌ Y) in Blastomyces dermatitidis and in Blastomyces brasiliensis are characterized as examples of thermal dimorphism since the phenomena are apparently dependent only on the temperature of incubation of these two species. The change in morphology consequent upon Y → M conversion is considered to result from the selective inhibition of cell division, without the simultaneous inhibition of growth. Such selective inhibition is viewed in a wider context as an example of the differential operation of the physicochemical apparatus of the cell in the control of form development by an organism. To analyze this differential operation, which is here dependent only on temperature, we have studied the effect of temperature on oxygen consumption by each of the dimorphic forms. In the absence of external substrate the yeast forms consume 5 to 6 times more oxygen per unit dry weight than do the M forms.The Y forms exhibit an exogenous oxidation of acetate and of glucose, as well as an oxidative assimilation of these substrates, whereas the M forms exhibit no exogenous metabolism in either a resting or starved condition. A study of the effect of a wide range of temperatures on oxygen consumption by the M forms indicates the operation of two rate-limiting processes: (a) one with an activation energy of 13,250 calories/gm. molecule over the range 5–30°, and (b) reversible enzyme inactivation; the latter process assuming importance in the higher temperature range. On abrupt, large changes in temperature the balance between these two rate-limiting reactions (which it is suggested characterizes the steady state) is apparently disrupted as a result of a lag in the assumption of a rate of reversible enzyme inactivation characteristic of the new temperature. This disruption of balance is evidenced in overshoot phenomena. The effect of an analogous disruption of balance, and of increasing enzymic inactivation; on a competition between enzyme systems, competing for substrate for cell elongation and for cell division, is considered in explanation of the observed dependence of the cell division mechanism on the maintenance of an elevated temperature.

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