An allergen, Absidia is commonly found in decaying plant debris, soils, foods, and can often cause food spoilage. The genus contains approximately 21 species, a common isolate being A. corymbifera (the only recognized pathogen of Absidia species). A. corymbifera is a principal cause of zygomycosis or mucormycosis. Zygomycosis can involve the rhino-facial-cranial area, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin, especially in the immunocompromised. The disease is associated with acidotic diabetes, malnourished children, severely burned patients, immunosuppressive therapy, use of cytotoxins and corticosteroids, and diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma. These fungi show an inclination for vessel invasion resulting in embolism and subsequent necrosis. This fungus is a zygomycete and its identification is based on its asexual reproduction, which is similar to Rhizopus and Mucor. Morphological characteristics are the production of sporangiospores, which are diminutive, round, thick walled bodies resistant to heat and drought, causing the fungi to be thermophilic. They are produced in large numbers in globular envelopes (sporangia) at the tip of special hyphae (sporangiophores). Identification is based on the way the sporangia are formed. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 37°C, 7 – 10 days for A. corymbifera; most other Absibia sp. are unable to grow at 37°C, but do grow at 20 – 25°C.
Acremonium sp. (Ack-ruh-moan’-ee-um) (Cephalosporium sp.)
Acremonium (a.k.a. Cephalosporium) is a common type I & III allergen. Naturally found in soils, decaying organic matter, and plant debris, it is also an agricultural contaminant. This genus can be parasitic or saprophytic to plants and other living fungi, and some species cause vascular wilts in trees. Acremonium is the asexual state of Emericellopsis, Chaetomium, and Nectripsis. It has been known to produce a toxin from the trichothecene group and may also give off an unpleasant odor due to the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This fungus is associated with occupant complaints such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Acremonium has been isolated from cases of mycetoma, onychomycosis, mycotic keratitis, infection of the cornea, and infections of artificial implants. Morphological characteristics are the production of conidiophores and long, slender phialides; conidia are hyaline, 1-celled, and are collected in a slime drop. Colonies grow fast and are compact and moist, becoming overgrown with loose, cottony hyphae which are white, gray or rose in color. Indoor growth requires extremely wet conditions, and does not grow very well at 37°C. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Aflatoxin – a potent carcinogen from the fungus Aspergillus; can be produced and stored for use as a bioweapon, which is any weapon usable in biological warfare – “they feared use of the smallpox virus as a bioweapon”.
The term BIOWEAPON includes these common terms :::
Bioarm -Biological Weapon – Bioweapon – Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD)
Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) – a weapon that kills or injures civilian as well as military personnel (nuclear and chemical and biological weapons)
Alternaria sp. (All-tur-nair’-ee-uh)
Alternaria is a large and widespread genus, the conidia of which are easily carried by the wind, with peak concentrations in the summer and early fall. Alternaria is commonly found in house dust, carpets, textiles, on horizontal surfaces in building interiors, and window frames. It is one of the main fungal causes of allergy, being a common type I & III allergen. Outdoors, it may be isolated from samples of soil, seeds and plants, and is frequently reported in air. The large spore size suggests that this fungus will deposit in the nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract causing nasal septum infections. It has also been associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It is a common cause of extrinsic asthma. Acute symptoms include edema and bronchiospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. Baker’s asthma is associated with inhalation of Alternaria conidia present in flour. Other diseases caused by Alternaria include: Farmer’s lung, mycotic keratitis, skin infections, and osteomyelitis. Also, the species A. alternata is capable of producing tenuazonic acid and other toxic metabolites that may be associated with disease in humans or animals. Several species are pathogenic to plants and contribute to the spoilage of agricultural products. Alternaria has been isolated from substrates such as sewage, leather, stone monuments, optical instruments, cosmetics, computer disks, and jet fuel. Morphological characteristics include abundant production of conidia that are large (18-83 x 7-18 microns) and multicellular with both transverse and longitudinal septa; conidiophores are dark, mostly simple. Colonies grow fast, are suede-like to floccose, and black to olivaceous-black or grayish in color. (Aw–0.85-0.89) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Amblyosporium sp. (Am-bly-oh-spor-ee-um)
Amblyosporium is a saprobe commonly found on decaying animals and feces because it grows well on ammonium and amino acids. It is considered a mitosporic (it lacks a known sexual state and belongs the Fungi Imperfecti) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (lives on the surface of the roots and forms a Hartig net). Amblyosporium has been isolated from Sitophilus oryzae L., an important insect pest of stored grain and processed foods. It has even been isolated from fabric. One species, A. botrytis forms effused orange-red tufts on decaying fungi. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Amerospores are small, round, non-septate asexual spores or spore-like particles, indistinguishable from each other at 600X magnification using light microscopy. They include Trichoderma and unchained spores of Aspergillus and Penicillium. Amerospores can also include Acremonium, Verticillium, Paecilomyces, Scytalidium, Cunninghamella, Monocillium, Gliocladium, and some yeasts.
Anixiella sp. (An-ick-sella)
Anixiella is a synonym for the genus Gelasinospora, an ascomycete. Anixiella is a decomposer that thrives on feces or decaying plant material. It can be found even in artic regions. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Arthrinium sp. (Arth-rin-ee-um)
Arthrinium is a widespread saprobe. It is found on plants including sugarcane and especially swamp grasses & sedges. This genus is often isolated from air near grassy places in the autumn. Only one species is considered to be allergenic. There have been no reported cases of infections or toxin related diseases in humans or animals. Conidiophores are simple, mostly hyaline except for thick dark septa. Conidia are dark, 1-celled, broadly fusoid, ovoid with an equatorial germ slit, and are attached on the side and apex of conidiophore. They usually occur in grape-like masses on white wooly colonies. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Arthrobotrys is commonly found in soils and decaying plant debris. This fungus is capable of capturing nematodes (including those causing damage to agricultural crops) with a complex network of constricting rings and sticky loops. After the fungus has obtained sufficient nutrients from its prey it will reproduce by producing clusters of conidia at the tops of long conidiophores. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Arthrographis sp. (Arth-roh-graf-ys)
Arthrographis is a widespread allergen commonly found in soils, compost, and decaying plants. Only two species have been identified: A. cuboidea and A. kalrae. A. kalrae is a known causative agent of onychomycosis and has been recovered from the skin, nails, and respiratory secretions of patients with chronic pulmonary disease. The fungi’s growth is variable, but it has the ability to grow at 45°C, which is significant for its identification. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20 – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Ascospores are a general category of spores that have been produced by means of sexual reproduction (in a sack-like structure called an ascus). These are ubiquitous saprobes and plant pathogens, many of which are easily identifiable (i.e. Chaetomium). This group contains potential opportunistic pathogens, toxin producers, and allergens depending on the genus and species. A rupture in the top portion of the ascus disperses the spores during rain or in times of high humidity. Some asexual fungi, such as Aspergillus and Penicillium can become sexual under specific conditions, these are then considered ascomycetes and are given distinct names.
Aspergillus sp. (Ass-pur-jill-us)
Aspergillus is a common type I & III allergen. They are frequently isolated from forest products, soils, grains, nuts, cotton, organic debris, and water damaged building materials. Spores can also be found in moist ventilation systems and house dust. There are more than 160 different species of Aspergillus, sixteen of which have been documented as etiological agents of human disease but rarely occur in individuals with normally functioning immune systems. However, due to the substantial increase in populations of individuals with HIV, chemotherapy patients and those on corticosteroid treatment, contamination of building substrates with fungi, particularly Aspergillus is of concern. Aspergillosis is now the second most common fungal infection requiring hospitalization in the United States. Many Aspergillus species produce mycotoxins that may be associated with diseases in humans and other animals. Toxin production is dependent on the species or strain within the species and on the food source for the fungus. Some of these toxins are carcinogenic including aflatoxins and ochratoxin. Aspergillus is a common cause of extrinsic asthma with symptoms including edema and bronchiospasms, and chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. These fungi are frequently secondary opportunistic pathogens in patients with bronchiectasis, carcinoma, other mycosis, sarcoid, and tuberculosis. Some species can also cause onychomycosis (infection of the nail). (Aw – 0.71 – 0.94). Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days. Speciation of Aspergillus requires the culture of the fungus under different conditions of media, humidity, and temperature.
Aspergillus flavus (Ass-pur-jill-us flay-vus)
Aspergillus flavus is a widespread saprobe found outdoors in soil, seeds, dry fruits, and on decaying plants. It is also found indoors on water damaged carpets and building materials. A. flavus has been reported to be allergenic and its presence is associated with asthma. This fungus is also associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis, as well as ear and eye infections. Occasionally, infections of lung, heart, and bladder have been reported. Some strains are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins in the aflatoxin group. Aflatoxins are animal carcinogens and are toxic to humans if ingested, and if inhaled can inflict occupationally related diseases. Toxin production is dependent on the substrate and growth conditions. (Aw – 0.78) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C.
Aspergillus fumigatus (Ass-pur-jill-us fume-uh-got’-us)
Aspergillus fumigatus is a saprobe with worldwide distribution. It is common in house dust, occurs in both outdoor and indoor air, in different types of soil, and on decaying plant material, compost, wood chips, bird feathers and droppings, and also hay and crops. It is also an important causal agent of systemic mycosis in domestic animals and in humans, especially the immunocompromised. Aspergillus fumigatus has also been reported to cause allergies, asthma, and rhinitis. This fungus produces a large number of mycotoxins and tremorgenic metabolites. It is an important human pathogen, being the most common cause of aspergillosis. A. fumigatus is a thermotolerant fungi and can grow at temperatures up to 50°C. This species is typically fast growing and is blue-green in color. (Aw-0.82 – >0.97) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25 or 37°C.
Aspergillus niger (Ass-pur-jill-us nigh-jhur)
Aspergillus niger is the third most common Aspergillus species associated with invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. It is a very common environmental isolate found in a great variety of substrates including textiles, grains, fruits and vegetables, and soil. It is commonly associated with “fungus ball”, a condition where the fungus actively grows in the human lung forming a ball, without invading lung tissue. Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus fumigatus have been reported to cause skin diseases and are a common cause of fungal related ear infections (otomycosis). Aspergillus niger generates many types of secondary metabolites including malformin C and some of the naptho-y-quinones. (Aw 0.77 – >0.97) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C.
Aspergillus terreus (Ass-pur-jill-us tare-us)
Aspergillus terreus occurs in the tropics and subtropics with a worldwide distribution among soils, grains, straw, cotton, stored foods, and decaying vegetation, and has been isolated from air and house dust. Also found in patients with cystic fibrosis, this species has grown in the human ear causing otomycosis, and can damage human nails (onychomycosis) and skin. It can produce mycotoxins including itaconic acid, patulin, mevinolin, and citrinin, which may be associated with disease in humans and animals. Mevinolin has the ability to lower blood cholesterol in humans; the compound has been manufactured & approved for use by the USDA under the trade name Mevacor. (Aw-0.78) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C.
Aspergillus versicolor (Ass-pur-jill-us ver-see-color)
Aspergillus versicolor can be found mostly in temperate areas in air, house dust, foods, soils, hay, cotton, and dairy products. Its presence in indoor air often indicates signs of moisture problems in buildings, as it is readily found in water damaged building materials. This species produces the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin, which is reported to be carcinogenic to the liver and kidney, and it can cause such symptoms as diarrhea and upset stomach. It also produces the volatile organic compound (VOC) geosmin, this compound causes irritation of the mucus membranes of humans and pets; also causing the characteristic musty, earthy odor often connected with moldy houses. A. versicolor may be in various colors, as the name implies, and is very common and displays great variety in colony pattern and size. (Aw-0.78) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C.
Aureobasidium sp. (Are-ee-oh-buh-syd’-ee-um)
Aureobasidium is a saprobe, or weak parasite, type I & III allergen, and common in a variety of soils outdoors. It is widespread in the indoor environment and is common in places that moisture accumulates like bathrooms, kitchens, shower curtains, tile grout, and windowsills. This genus has 14 species, A. pullulans being the most common. Indoors A. pullulans is often found as a black stain on damp materials in homes such as painted wood. This species has also been reported to cause chromoblastomycosis (in an immunocompromised patient), which is a chronic cutaneous infection of the skin. Morphology is characterized by producing black, shiny colonies. This fungus produces abundant spores, that are 1-celled, ovoid, and 5-7 microns in size. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Basidiospores are a general category of sexual spores that have been released from the basidium of a fungus. A ubiquitous type I & III allergen, saprobe and plant pathogen, mainly found in gardens, forests, and woodlands. Spores disseminate during rain or in times of high humidity. Rarely opportunistic pathogens, Basidiospores may produce toxins, including amanitins, monomethyl-hydrazine, muscarine, ibotenic acid, and psilocybin. Basidiospores are an agent of dry wood rot, which may destroy the structure wood of buildings.
Basipetospora is the anamorphic state of the genus Monascus. It is a widespread saprobe found on substrates with high water tension, such as dried foods. Monascus is a yeast known as the “red yeast rice”. It contains Mavinolins, which includes Monacolin-K, this is found on M. ruber or B. ruber. This species contains the highest natural Monacolin-K, therefore known as Ruby Monascus. (Aw – 0.75 – 0.78) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days
Beauveria sp. (Boh-ver-ee-ah)
Beauveria is a type I allergen and saprobe reported as mainly an aggressive parasite of insects (may attack at larval or adult stages), and was first recognized as the agent of muscardine disease of the silkworm. B. bassiana is the best known member of this genus and is under research for biocontrol of insects. It is also a rare human pathogen, associated with keratitis and pneumonia in the immunocompromised. B. alba commonly occurs in indoor environments and appears to be less strongly associated with insects. Beauveria is commonly found in plant debris, soils, dung, and foods. Mycelium is white or slightly colored with a white fluffy to powdery appearance; conidiophores are single or irregularly grouped; conidia are hyaline, rounded to ovoid, 1-celled, dry and borne along a thin filament. The conidia are produced on short spikes or denticles, giving the conidiogenous cells a spiny appearance. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Beltrania is a mitosporic fungus that is very widespread and commonly found in dead leaves and plant debris in subtropical to tropical areas. It is known as an ascomycete, which is one of the major classes of fungal organisms. This class contains the “sac fungi” and the yeasts. Many are reported to be allergenic. Note: see Ascospore. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Bipolaris sp. (By-pole-air’-us)
Bipolaris is a plant parasite mostly on subtropical and tropical plants, particularly to Graminae. Some species are pathogenic to grasses and animals such as the dog, and may cause nasal mycotic granuloma in cattle. This fungus can grow in semi-dry environments. Bipolaris is commonly found in dead or dying plant debris, soils, and grasses. It has been reported to produce the mycotoxin, sterigmatocystin that has been shown to cause liver and kidney damage when ingested by laboratory animals. This fungus is associated with phaeohyphomycosis, a disease consisting of a group of mycotic infections characterized by the presence of demataceous septate hyphae. Infections of the eyes and skin by black fungi could also be classified as phaeohyphomycosis. This fungus causes allergic fungal sinusitis, characterized by the presence of Bipolaris in the sinuses. In certain people with severe allergies, the large spores of this fungus can travel to the sinuses or upper respiratory tract, where they attach to the mucus and grow; producing an unrelenting allergic reaction that progressively and permanently damages the sinuses. Morphological characteristics of this genus are the production of brown conidia that are multi-celled, elliptical, straight or curved. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20 – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Bispora is a widespread mitosporic fungus. It has been isolated from dead wood in temperate areas in the northern hemisphere. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20 – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Blastomyces is a thermally dimorphic fungus, and is rarely isolated from the environment but has been found in acidic, organic soil around waterways and beaver dams. The species B. dermatitidis can cause blastomycosis (Chicago disease, Gilchrist’s disease, North American Blastomycosis). Blastomycosis is generally acquired by inhalation and initially presents with a respiratory infection, which may spread and cause disease to other organs and systems such as the central nervous system (CNS), eyes, skin, sinuses, tongue, reproductive tract, gastrointestinal tract, liver, spleen, and bones. This is a very serious disease that can be fatal, and a compromised immune system is the primary risk factor. This disease is most prevalent in males’ ages 40-60 years and in children. Blastomycosis can also infect dogs, which are infected by inhaling the infectious particles. There is no evidence of animal to human transmission. B. dermatitidis is found predominantly in the Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi river valleys. When grown at 25°C, Blastomyces is a filamentous fungus, and when grown at 37°C it has a yeast-like form. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Sabouraud glucose agar, 20 – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Blastoschizomyces has a single species, B. capitatus, which is a yeast commonly found in soils, beach sand, poultry feces, and wood pulp. As well as being a saprobe to the environment, it is found in the normal microbial flora of human skin, and digestive and respiratory tracts. An opportunistic fungi that is potentially pathogenic in cases of human immuno-supression. Disseminated infections of the lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, and brain may occur and are likely in neutropenic patients with leukemia or those undergoing bone marrow transplantation. Development of endocarditis, osteomyelitis, meningitis, encephalitis, urinary tract infection, mycetoma, and pneumothorax may result. Colonies grow rapidly and mature in about 5 days; the colony is yeast-like and becomes mold-like with age. B. capitatus may be wrongly identified as Trichosporon, Geotrichum candidum, or Candida krusei; but because of its ability to grow at 45°C, its resistance to cycloheximide and biochemical characteristics helps to accurately identify the species. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Botryoderma is a mitosporic hyphomycete fungus, which has been isolated from roots of fumigated and nonfumigated Douglas-fir stumps in Oregon. It has also been seen in South Africa and Brazil. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Botryosporium is a plant pathogen and resembles gray mold, and can often be found on greenhouse tomatoes, and has also been found in hydrilla and/or soil. Botryosporium has been detected in moldy buildings along with Acremonium, Oedocephalum, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. A laboratory study shows hygrosporic growth in the human respiratory system. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Botryotrichum forms dense white colonies, and have been found in raw compost, plaster, wallpaper, and cellophane in sand. Some species have been found to be parasitic on nematode eggs. Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Botrytis sp. is a Type I & III allergen, not a known toxin producer or opportunistic pathogen. Mostly reported to be found in tropical and temperate areas. This fungus is a parasite of plants, soft fruits and vegetables. The cause of leaf/root rot on fruits and vegetables such as, strawberries and onions. It is also known as “gray mold” or “noble rot” on wine grapes. Botrytis is known to cause allergies and induce asthma attacks, and is also a rare agent of keratomycosis. In some types of agricultural settings, such as greenhouses, the concentration of aerosolized spores may be greatly enhanced. Botrytis is also used in some types of wine production. Conidia are hyaline or gray in mass, 1-celled, ovoid, and 7-14 x 5-9 microns in size. (Aw – 0.93-0.95) Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Byssochlamys is a widespread ascomycete fungus, and is also the anamorph of Paecilomyces. Byssochlamys is commonly found in soil, dust, canned or bottled fruit, barley grain, silage, and wood in temperate areas. This is an extremely thermo-tolerant (heat-resistant) fungus, and may cause spoilage in acidic foods, such as fruits. The optimal growth for this fungus is 30°-37°C, but may grow up to 98° – 100°C. Byssochlamys may also produce the mycotoxins, patulin and mannitol. The teleomorph form, Paecilomyces is the most commonly found in viable cultures, and also has ascospores that can survive in temperatures up to 80°C. (Aw – 0.84 – 0.92). Culture – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 20° – 25°C, 7 – 10 days.
Chaetomium sp. is found on a variety of substrates containing cellulose including paper and plant compost. Several species have been reported to play a major role in decomposition of cellulose-made materials. These fungi are able to dissolve the cellulose fibers in cotton and paper and thus cause the materials to disintegrate. The process is especially rapid under moist conditions. During the Second World War countries lost a great deal of equipment to these species. It is reported to be allergenic, although recent research has indicted that it may be more toxic then Stachybotrus. It is an ascomycete, in most species, the spores are lemon-shaped, with a single germ pore. The spore column results from the breakdown of the asci within the body of the perithecium. The perithecia of Chaetomium are superficial and barrel-shaped, and they are clothed with dark, stiff hairs. It can produce an Acremonium-like state (imperfect stage) on fungal media. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24° to 26°C.
Chrysosporium sp. – This fungus is a saprophyte and is commonly found in soil, dung, plant debris, and seeds. Conidiophores poorly differentiated, mostly erect and branching irregularly, hyaline. Conidia are 1-celled, globose to pyriform, single or in short chains, and usually with a broad basal scar. Cultivation – Malt extract agar, 24° to 26°C.
Cladosporium sp. – (Aw – 0.84 – 0.88). C. herbarum is the most frequently found species in outdoor air in temperate climates. It is often found indoors, usually in lesser numbers than outdoors. The dry conidia become easily airborne and are transported over long distances. This fungus is often encountered in dirty refrigerators, especially in reservoirs where condensation is collected. On moist window frames, it can easily be seen covering the whole painted area with a velvety olive-green layer. Cladosporium often discolors interior paint, paper, or textiles stored under humid conditions. Houses with poor ventilation, houses with thatched straw roofs and houses situated in low damp environments may have heavy concentrations of Cladosporium, which will be easily expressed when domestic mold is analyzed. It is commonly found on the surface of fiberglass duct liner in the interior of supply ducts. It is also found on dead plants, woody plants, food, straw, soil, paint, and textiles. The ability to sporulate heavily, ease of dispersal, and buoyant spores makes this fungus the most important fungal airway allergen; and together with Alternaria, it commonly causes asthma and hay fever in the Western hemisphere. A few species of this genus cause disease, which range from phaeohyphomycosis, a group of mycotic infections characterized by the presence of demataceous septate hyphae. Infections of the eyes and skin by black fungi (also classified as phaeohyphomycosis), and chromoblastomycosis, chronic localized infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that follows the traumatic implantation of the etiologic agent are also caused by this fungus. Chromoblastomycosis lesions are verrucoid, ulcerated, and crusted. Skin abscesses, mycotic keratitis and pulmonary fungus ball have been recorded in immuno- compromised patients. It may also cause corneal infections and mycetoma, characterized by localized infections that involve cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue, fascia, and bone consisting of abscesses, granulomata, and draining sinuses, usually in immuno-compromised hosts. Fungal colonies are powdery or velvety olive-green to olive-brown. Other characteristics include dark conidia 1- or 2-celled, variable in shape and size, ovoid to cylindrical and irregular, typically lemon-shaped. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Cunninghamella sp. Commonly found as saprophyte in soil. Can cause disseminated and pulmonary infections in immune compromised hosts. It is a zygomycete with zygospores being of the Mucor type. Asexually it produces extensive white mycelium, nonseptate, conidiophores (sporangiosphores) simple or branched, with enlarged tips bearing heads of conidia; conidia are colorless, 1-celled, globose, conidia may be spiny or smooth. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Curvularia sp. – Reported to be allergenic. It may cause corneal infections, mycetoma and infections in immune compromised hosts. This fungus can be parasitic or saprophytic. Conidiophores brown, mostly simple, bearing conidia apically; dark conidia, end cells lighter, 3- to 5-celled, more or less fusiform, typically bent, with one of the central cells enlarged. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Epicoccum sp. – It is commonly found as a secondary invader in plants, soil, grains, textiles and paper products where Cladosporium and Aureobasidium are present. It is mostly saprophytic, or weakly parasitic. Epicoccum is frequently isolated from air and occasionally occurs in house dust. Reported to be an allergen but not in a high frequency. Due to the ability of this fungus to grow at 37°C, it can cause infection of skin in humans. Morphological characteristics are production of dark conidia, several-celled (15-celled), globose, verrucose, 15-25 microns in diameter, and in a fruiting body (sporodochium). Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Fusarium sp. – (Aw 0.90). Commonly found in soil, plants, grains, and often times it is found in humidifiers. This fungus is the most common cause of mycotic keratitis. This mold has been isolated from skin lesions on burn patients, nail infections, ear infections, varicose ulcer, mycetoma , osteomyelitis following trauma, and disseminated infection. This fungus produces very harmful toxins, especially in storage of infected. crops. These toxins, known as trichothecene (scierpene) toxins target the circulatory, alimentary, skin, and nervous systems. Fusarium can also produce 1). Vomotoxin on grains which has been associated with outbreaks of acute gastrointestinal illness in humans. 2). T-2 Toxin and related trichothecenes are some of the deadliest known toxins. If ingested in sufficient quantity, T-2 toxin can severally damage the entire digestive tract and cause rapid death due to internal hemorrhage. 3). Fumosin, commonly found in corn and corn based products, with recently outbreaks of veterinary mycotoxicosis causing “crazy horse disease”. 4). Zearalenone toxin which is similar in chemical structure to the female sex hormone estrogen and targets the reproductive organs. Morphological characteristics of this fungus include extensive cotton-like mycelium in culture, often with some tinge of pink, purple or yellow. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Geotrichum sp. This fungus is commonly found in dairy products and also in soils. This genus can sometimes be pathogenic to man. It is characterized by the formation of chains of colorless, slimy spores (conidia) through the fermentation of vegetative filaments. Some species of Geotrichum have strong odors.
Gliocladium sp. This fungus occurs in soil or decaying plant matter as parasites of other fungi. Reported to be allergenic. Fungus that is structurally similar to Penicillium sp. but with conidia collecting in wet rather than dry masses. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Graphium sp. It is parasitic and commonly found as plant pathogen causing vascular diseases (wilts). Conidiophores are simple, colorless, produced in abundance, bearing oblong conidia that reproduce by budding. Mode of conidial development is variable in different species. Some species are imperfect stage of Ceratocystis. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Helminthosporium sp. Found as saprophytic or parasitic. Mycelium dark, often in substrate; conidiophores single or clustered, tall, erect, brown, simple; conidia develop laterally through pores beneath septa while conidiophore still growing, single, sub-hyaline to brown, obclavate. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Leptosphaerulina sp. Ascomycete found on leaves and herbaceous stems. Its asexual state is Pithomyces. Ascoma an ostiolate, immersed in host tissue, apez erupent at maturity. Asci few, bitunicate, thick-walled, 8-spored. Ascospores are colorless, variable in shape from oblong to ellipsoid or short cylindric, transverse and longitudinal septa, sometimes longitudinal septa lacking in some spores, with a thin gelatinous sheath, sometimes becoming brownish with age. Cultivation – Corn meal agar, 24°C.
Memnoniella sp. Cellulolytic fungus very closely related to Stachybotrys. Both fungi have a worldwide distribution and often found together, and commonly found in soil. Recent studies on mycotoxins revealed that Memnoniella echinata can have toxicity similar to that of some isolates of S. chartarum. In terms of their chemical products, both S. chartarum and M echinata produce phenylspirodrimanes, but these two organisms differ in that the former produces macrocyclic and trichoverroid trichothecenes and the latter produces griseofulvins. Both produce varying amounts of simple trichothecenes. Thus, it is suggested that Memnoniella should also be considered potentially dangerous in indoor air. The conidiophores are dark, simple, bearing at apex a cluster of thick, short phialides; conidia of Memnoniella echinata are very similar to those of Stachybotrys, dark, 1-celled, globose. The major difference between the two fungi is that the conidia are in long persistent chains (aggregated in slimy heads in Stachybotrys). Also the aerodynamic diameter of Memnoniella is smaller and it would be expected to have an even greater potential to penetrate deep into lungs than the conidia of Stachybotrys. Cultivation – Corn meal agar, 24°C.
Monilia sp. Its mycelium is white or gray, and abundant in culture. Conidiophore branched; conidia pink, gray, or tan in mass, 1-celled, short cylindric to rounded, in acropetalous chains. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Mucor sp. Often found in soils, dead plant material (hay), horse dung, fruits and fruit juice. It is also found in leather, meat, dairy products, animal hair, and jute. It is almost always in house dust, frequently in air samples and old dirty carpets. Wood chips and sawdust are often attacked by M. plimbeus causing “wood chips disease” and “furrier’s lung”. Accumulated dust in ventilation ducts may contain high concentrations of viable Mucor spores. Asthmatic reactions to Mucor have been described. It is a Zygomecete fungus that may be allergenic (skin and bronchial tests). It is an opportunistic pathogenic organism and it may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infections are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites. This organism and other Zygomycetes will grow rapidly on most fungal media. Conidia (aplanospores) are globose to ellipsoidal,7-8 microns in diameter, yellowish brown and slightly rough-walled, and are produced in sporangia that are developed around a piriform columella with typical projections. Identification is based on the way sporangia are formed. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.,
Mycotoxin- a toxin produced by a fungus
Ubiquitous, type I allergen. Often found on decaying plant material, however occasionally found indoors. Dispersed by wind in the dry phase, while the wet amoebic phase is motile. Myxomycetes exhibit characteristics of protozoans and fungi. Indistinguishable from smuts under 600x microscopy.
Nigrospora sp. Nigrospora is reported to be allergenic. Morphological characteristics include shiny black conidia, 1-celled, egg-shaped to flattened-spherical, produced singly, and often have an equatorial colorless line or germ slit. Nigrospora often appears as white wooly colonies growing fairly rapidly. This fungus can be a plant parasite or saprophytic.
Paecilomyces sp. – Commonly found in soil and dust, less frequently in air. P. variotii can cause paecilomycosis. Linked to wood-trimmers disease and humidifier associated illnesses. Some members of this genus are reported to cause pneumonia. It has also been reported as causative agent of allergic alveolitis. It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate, this can occur on wallpapers covered with Paris green. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Penicillium sp. – (Aw 0.78). A wide number of organisms belong to this genus. Identification to species is difficult. Often found in aerosol samples. Commonly found in soil, food, cellulose, paint, grains, and compost piles. It is commonly found in carpet, wallpaper, and in interior fiberglass duct insulation. Although this fungus is less allergy-provoking than the other molds, Penicillium is reported to be allergenic (skin) and it may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. It can cause other infections such as keratitis, penicilliosis, and otomycosis. Some species can produce mycotoxins including 1). Ochratoxin which is damaging to the kidneys and liver and is also a suspected carcinogen; there is also evidence that impairs the immune system. 2). Citrinin that can cause renal damage, vasodilatation, and bronchial constriction. 3). Gliotoxin which is an immunosuppressive toxin, and 4). Patulin that is believed to cause hemorrhaging in the brain and lungs and is usually associated with apple and grape spoilage. It can also cause extrinsic asthma. P. camemberti has been responsible for inducing occupational allergies among those who work with soft white cheeses on which the fungus grows. P. chrysogenum has been found on building materials, including paints, chip boards, and wallpaper. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 24°C.
Penicillium brevicompactum Commonly found in water damaged carpet, wallpaper, and some types of insulation. Penicillium is reported to be allergenic (skin) and it may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. It can cause other infections such as keratitis, penicilliosis, and otomycosis. Penicillium brevicompactum can produce the mycotoxin mycophenolic acid.
Penicillium chrysogenum This species, formerly known as Penicillium notatum, was one of the first known producers of penicillin. It is commonly found and can act as a food source for some types of dust mites. Penicillium chrysogenum is often found growing as a dark green colony and can produce the mycotoxins roquefortine C, chrysogine, and meleagrin.
Phoma sp. This fungus is reported to be a common indoor air allergen and it is also commonly found on various plant parts and soil. Phoma species are reported to grow extensively on painted walls, particularly in humid places such as showers. Some species can be pathogenic to humans, causing either systematic or subcutaneous diseases (phaeohyphomycosis). Morphological characteristics of this fungus include the production of dark colonies resulting from microscopic dark fruiting structures called pycnidia which harbor one-celled spores. It has been reported to produce pink or purple spots on painted walls and grow on paint, cement, and rubber. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 24°C.
Pithomyces sp. This fungus is found mainly growing on decaying plants, specially grasses. It produces a mycotoxin called sporidesmin (a piperazinedione) known to be pathogenic in animals causing facial eczema and liver damage. Spores are produced at the apex of short side branches of vegetative filaments, dark brown, 2- to several celled. The most common isolated species is P. chartarum and its spores have both longitudinal and transverse septa. Cultivation – Corn meal agar, 24°C.
Rhinocladiella sp. Naturally found in soil and woody plant materials as a saprophyte. Reported among the principal fungi causing chromoblastomycosis, a disease characterized by a chronic localized infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that follows the traumatic implantation of the causal agent. The lesions are verrucoid, ulcerated, and crusted, and may be flat or raised 1-3 cm. The mycosis usually remains localized with extensive keloid formation. Forms of the disease include Verrucous dermatitis, Brain abscess syndrome, Single or multiple cysts, Local or systemic lesions. Morphological characteristics – Conidiophores simple, or branched in some species. Conidia apical on new growing points of conidiophore, subhyaline to dark, mostly 1-celled, ovoid to oblong-ellipsoid, dry. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar or Malt extract agar, 24°C.
Rhizomucor sp. Belongs to the Zygomycetes (mucorales) and it is reported to be allergenic and often linked to occupational allergy. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It occupies a similar biological niche to Mucor sp.. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may be multiple sites. It may also cause zygomycosis (rhino-facial-cranial area, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin). This disease is associated with the acidotic diabetes, malnourished children, severely burned patients, and other diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma, immunosuppressive therapy, or use of cytotoxins and corticosteroids. The fungi show a proclivity for vessel invasion resulting in embolization and necrosis of surrounding tissue. Morphological characteristics of this fungus are the production of sporangiospores, which are diminute, rounded thick walled bodies resistant to heat and drought. They are produced in large numbers in globular envelopes (sporangia) at the tip of special hyphae (sporangiophores). Identification is based on the way the sporangia are formed. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Rhizopus sp. Fungus found throughout the environment. It has been reported to be allergenic and it is often linked to occupational allergy. It may cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. It may also cause zygomycosis (rhino-facial-cranial area, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin). This disease is associated with the acidotic diabetes, malnourished children, severely burned patients, and other diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma, immunosuppressive therapy, or use of cytotoxins and corticosteroids. The fungi show a propensity for vessel invasion resulting in embolization and necrosis of surrounding tissue. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Scedosporium sp. This fungus is found in soils, decaying plants matter or dung. Listed among the principal fungi that cause Phaeohyphomycosis. This disease consists of a group of mycotic infections characterized by the presence of dematiaceous septate hyphae and sometimes yeast or combination of both. Species of Scedosporium mostly affect people with compromised immune systems, but healthy people may also become infected. The hyphae may be short to elongate, distorted or swollen, regularly shaped or any combination of the above. Infections of the eyes and skin by the black fungi could also be included in this disease. . Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Scopulariopsis sp. This fungus is ubiquitous, and can be found on a wide variety of materials including old carpets and water-damaged wallpaper. Exposures from Scopulariopsis brevicaulis have been associated with cases of occupational allergy in the tobacco industry. It can decompose arsenic compounds found on building materials with an arsenic substrate, such as, some types of wallpaper and paints.
Sepedonium sp. This fungus is mainly found as parasite of mushrooms, but it is also isolated from soil. Most easily recognized by the spores, which are colorless to yellow, spiny, round, 1-celled, and produced singly at the ends of short filaments. Sometimes spores of Sepedonium can be very similar to those of the human pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum and species of Mortierella. . Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Ubiquitous, type I allergen. They are parasitic plant pathogens that require a living host. Most often found on corn, grass, weeds, flowering plants and other fungi; usually disseminated by wind. Indistinguishable from myxomycetes under 600x microscopy.
Sporothrix sp. It can cause sporotrichosis. Usually only in populations which are immune compromised. Morphological characteristics include conidiophores mostly simple, 1-celled or septate, hyaline, bearing a loose cluster of dry conidia at apex; conidia, hyaline, 1-celled, globose to ovoid, born on short, prominent denticles. Mostly found as saprophyte. Cultivation – Sabouraud’s agar, 24°C.
Sporotrichum sp. This fungus is reported to be allergenic. Sporotrichum is commonly found on decaying plant matter, wet and rotting wood and in landscaping mulch. It is morphologically similar to the human pathogen Sporothrix.
Stachybotrys sp. – Considerable recent media attention has been focused on the fungi Stachybotrys chartum due to infant deaths in Cleveland from pulmonary hemosiderosis which may be associated with contamination of residences with this fungi. Stachybotrys thrives on water damaged cellulose rich materials such as sheet rock, paper, ceiling tiles, cellulose containing insulation backing and wallpaper. The presence of this fungus in buildings is significant because of the mold’s ability to produce mycotoxins, which are extremely toxic, such as Satratoxin H. Exposure to these toxins can occur through inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure. Symptoms include dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, a burning sensation in the mouth and nasal passage, cold and flu symptoms, headache, general malaise, and fever. Inhalation of conidia may also induce pathological changes (pneumomycotoxicoses). Satratoxin H has been reported to be abortogenic in animals and in high doses or chronic low doses it can be lethal. S. chartarum produces other macrocyclic and trichoverroid trichothecenes and, like Memnoniella echinata, produces phenylspirodrimanes, which are immunosuppressive. Stachybotrys typically appears as a sooty black fungus occasionally accompanied by a thick mass of white mycelia. As a general rule, air sampling for Stachybotrys yields unpredictable results mainly due to the fact that this fungus is usually accompanied by other fungi such as Aspergillus and Penicillium that normally are better aerosolized than Stachybotrys. Bulk or surface sampling of suspect materials can be analyzed in a laboratory for identification by light microscopy. Cultivation – Corn meal agar, 24°C.
Stemphylium sp. – Reported to be allergenic. Isolated from dead plants and cellulose materials; it can be parasitic or saprophytic. Morphological characteristics – Dark conidia, with cross and longitudinal septa, variable in shape, frequently globose, broadly ellipsoid, or ovoid, often constricted at major septum. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar or V-8 juice agar, 24°C.
Syncephalastrum sp. This organism is considered to be primarily non pathogenic in humans and is usually found in soils and in dung. Morphologically it is distinct with conidiophores erect, branched, tips enlarged, bearing a head of rod shaped sporangioles, each producing a row of nearly spherical conidia.
Torula sp. Reported to be allergenic. Found as a saprophyte. Morphological characteristics – Conidiophores short, dark, simple, branched or absent; conidia 1-to several-celled, round, dark, and in chains. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Trichoderma sp. Trichoderma is most commonly found in soil. Trichoderma is often found in litter materials (polluted streams, sewage plants and driftwood). It is found on paper, and in kitchens on many common tableware materials. T. viridae is often isolated from indoor air samples and house dust. Materials such as wood construction and mineral fiber panels can be very affected by this fungus. Trichoderma sp. is reported to be allergenic but are relatively rare. Inhalation of the conidia or teh volatile organic compounds, may cause symptoms similar to those of Stachybotrys reactions. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C.
Tricothecium sp. Occurring in soil and decaying plant matter, often found as an epiparasite on black knot of plum. Spores are 2-celled, colorless to pink, bilaterally symmetrical and are produced in long chains from the unbranched conidiophores. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 24°C. Produces mycotoxins, trichothecin and other trichothecenes.
Ulocladium sp. – (Aw 0.89). This fungus is reported to be allergenic and considered cosmopolitan. It is commonly found as a saprophyte on plant materials and soils. Some species can be also found on dead herbaceous plants, rotten woods, paper, textiles, and other organic substrates (cellulose,)such as water-damaged building materials. Ulocladium is also found in dust and air samples. Ulocladium is known to be a common airway allergen. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 26°C.
Verticillium sp. Commonly found in soil and decaying plant matter, known also to cause plant diseases. Characterized by whorls of phialides produced along the length of undifferentiated filaments of on conidiophores. Conidia are colorless, 1- or 2-celled, collected in small wet masses. Cultivation – Potato dextrose agar, 26°C.
Most species of yeast reproduce asexually through a process called budding. The daughter cell of the parent yeast cell is at first much smaller and tends to cling to the parent and often clumps or chains of cells are formed. Ascospores are formed during sexual reproduction of some yeasts.
Candida sp. Part of the normal flora and other mucous membranes in the body. Thrush and other diseases caused by this yeast usually occur after prolonged treatment with antibiotics or steroids. The environment is not a likely source of exposure for this fungus and cells from the organism are usually not airborne. Mucocutaneous candidiasis is one of the most common manifestations of HIV infection. While other yeasts may occasionally cause clinical disease, Candida albicans is the organism isolated from most patients. Most species of yeast reproduce asexually through a process called budding. The daughter cell is at first much smaller and tends to cling to the parent and often clumps or chains cell is at first much smaller and tends to cling to the parent and often clumps or chains of cells are formed. Cultivation – YM agar, 36°C
Cryptococcus neoformans Yeast considered an opportunistic pathogen, although it can cause a disease in an immune competent host. In its environmental state C. neoformans var. neoformans colonizes pigeon and other bird droppings and C. neoformans var. gatti the bark of the red gum tree. Both forms can cause disease in humans (cryptococcosis). Primary infection with C. neoformans follows exposure to an environmental source and inhalation of the fungus leading to an infection of the lung. A transient colonization of the bronchial tree may result, or more extensive pulmonary involvement may occur. Bronchial infection may be self-limiting or chronic and may lead to dissemination to other parts of the body. Meningoencephalitis is the most common manifestation of dissemination and the most severe. Symptoms depend upon the rapidity of onset of disseminated disease. The indolent cases begin with headache. Nausea, dizziness, decreased comprehension, impaired memory and gait ataxia follow and increase in severity as invasion of the cerebral cortex, brain stem, cerebellum and meninges progresses. Although pigeon excreta is considered a significant source of inoculum of this fungus, it is thought that alternative unknown routes of exposure exist. One possible source that is currently being studied is the sexual stage of C. neoformans var. neoformans, Filobasidiella neoformans var. neoformans. The basidiospores of this organism are dry, readily airborne, which may be more readily deposited in the alveoli. Sampling for C. neoformans should only be performed is a route of exposure is suspected. This would include bulk sampling of pigeon droppings in and around fresh air intakes and surface sampling of ductwork and work areas. Most species of yeast reproduce asexually through a process called budding. The daughter cell is at first much smaller and tends to cling to the parent and often clumps or chains of cells are formed. Cultivation – YM agar, 24°C.
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