Model for the carbon starvation response in A. niger Schematic representation of major early, intermediate and late processes during prolonged submerged carbon starvation. During the early phase of starvation, secondary growth fueled by carbon recycling is initiated as characterized by the formation of thin hyphae. Two mechanisms resulting in empty hyphal compartments are depicted. On the left side, apoptotic/necrotic signals lead to cell death of compartments. Cytoplasmic content leaks into the culture broth. Surviving compartments are protected by autophagic processes isolating/inactivating cell death signals. On the right side, endogenous recycling of neighboring compartments by autophagic processes leads to the formation of empty hyphal ghosts. Cytoplasmic content does not leak into the culture broth. During the intermediate phase, earlier processes continue and first reproductive structures emerge. Towards later phase, these processes proceed resulting in few surviving compartments often bearing reproductive structures and elongating thin hyphae. Depending on strain (e.g. Δ creA) and cultivation conditions (e.g. elevated pH), a largely empty non fragmented mycelial network remains (left side) or fragmentation of empty hyphal ghosts occurs by hydrolytic weakening of cell walls (right side).