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Aspergillus sp.

Mitosporic fungus. Hyphomycetes.Teleomorphs (sexual state): Eurotium, Neosartorya, Emericella (Ascomycetes).

Aspergillus microphoto



Approx. 200 species.

Where Found

Soil, decaying plant debris, compost piles, stored grain.

Mode of Dissemination

Dry spore.

Growth Indoors

On a wide range of substrates. Water requirements range widely (dependent on species).
Aw=0.71-0.94 (minimum for various species).

Industrial Uses

Many, including practical applications in food production. For example, A. oryzae is used to ferment soybeans to soy sauce. A. terreus produces mevinolin which is able to reduce blood cholesterol; A. niger is used in the bread and beer making industries (enzyme production) and also is able to decompose plastic. A. niger and A. ochraceus are used in cortisone production.

Other Comments

Aspergillus is one of the most common fungal genera, worldwide, and Aspergillus fumigatus is one of the most common species found.

Potential Health Effects


Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).
Type III hypersensitivity pneumonitis: Humidifier lung, Malt worker's lung, Compost lung, Wood trimmer's disease, Straw hypersensitivity, Farmer's lung, Oat grain hypersensitivity, others.
Other: A. fumigatus: allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), allergic fungal sinusitis.

Potential Opportunist or Pathogen

Respiratory, invasive, cutaneous, ear, and corneal disease. Severe, invasive disease is usually associated with immunosuppressed hosts. Many species grow at 37°C (body temperature).
A. fumigatus: fungus ball and invasive disease.
A. flavus: nasal sinus lesions, invasive disease.
A. niger: "Swimmer's ear," and invasive disease.

Potential Toxin Production

Partial list:
A. flavus: aflatoxin B1 & B2, cyclopiazonic acid, kojic acid
A. fumigatus: ergot alkaloids, fumigaclavines, gliotoxin, fumigatoxin, fumigillin, fumitremorgens, helvolic acid, tryptoquivaline tremorgens, verruculogen.
A. niger: malformin C, oxalic acid.
A. ustus: austocystins.
A. versicolor: aspercolorin, averufin, cyclopiazonic acid, sterigmatocystin, versicolorin.

Laboratory Notes

Growth/Culture Characterisics

Aspergillus species grow well on general fungal media. Some xerophilic species prefer dryer conditions.

Spore Trap Recognition

Free spores are indistinguishable from Penicillium, and other genera with small round to oval colorless spores. Penicillium/Aspergillus spores may have remnants of cell wall connections.

Tape Lift Recognition

If sporulating structures are present, Aspergillus is readily identifiable on tape samples. Old growth or samples with very large numbers of spores may not contain structures necessary for identification and are reported as "spores typical of Penicillium/Aspergillus."