Until recently, morphotyping, a method evaluating fringe and surface characteristics of streak colonies grown on malt agar, has been recommended as a simple and unexpensive typing method for Candida albicans
isolates. The discriminatory power and reproducibility of Hunter's modified scheme of Phongpaichit's morphotyping has been evaluated on 28 C. albicans
isolates recovered from the oral cavity of asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus-positive subjects, and compared to two molecular typing methods: randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) fingerprinting, and contour clamped homogeneous electric field (CHEF) electrophoretic karyotyping. Morphological features of streak colonies allowed to distinguish 11 different morphotypes while RAPD fingerprinting yielded 25 different patterns and CHEF electrophoresis recognized 9 karyotypes. The discriminatory power calculated with the formula of Hunter and Gaston was 0.780 for morphotyping, 0.984 for RAPD fingerprinting, and 0.630 for karyotyping. Reproducibility was tested using 43 serial isolates from 15 subjects (2 to 6 isolates per subject) and by repeating the test after one year storage of the isolates. While genetic methods generally recognized a single type for all serial isolates from each of the subjects studied, morphotyping detected strain variations in five subjects in the absence of genetic confirmation. Poor reproducibility was demonstrated repeating morphotyping after one year storage of the isolates since differences in at least one character were detected in 92.9% of the strains.