FTIR and Raman spectromicroscopy were used to characterize the composition of Curvularia protuberata hyphae, and to compare a strain isolated from plants inhabiting geothermal soils with a non-geothermal isolate. Thermal IR source images of hyphae have been acquired with a 64 ?? 64 element focal plane array detector; single point IR spectra have been obtained with synchrotron source light. In some C. protuberata hyphae, we have discovered the spectral signature of crystalline mannitol, a fungal polyol with complex protective roles. With FTIR-FPA imaging, we have determined that the protein content in cells remains fairly constant throughout the length of a hypha, whereas the mannitol is found at discrete, irregular locations. This is the first direct observation of mannitol in intact fungal hyphae. Since the concentration of mannitol in cells varies with respect to position and is not present in all hyphae, this discovery may be related to habitat adaptation, fungal structure and growth stages. ?? 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.