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Penicillium sp.

Mitosporic fungus. Hyphomycetes. Teleomorphs (sexual state): Eupenicillium, Talaromyces (Ascomycetes).



Approx. 200 species.

Where Found

Soil, decaying plant debris, compost piles, fruit rot. P. glabrum has been isolated from diesel fuel.

Mode of Dissemination

Dry spore.
Wind, insects (fungus serves as a food source for storage mites).

Growth Indoors

Widespread. Commonly found in house dust. Grows in water damaged buildings on wallpaper, wallpaper glue, decaying fabrics, moist chipboards, and behind paint. Also found in blue rot of apples, dried foodstuffs, cheeses, fresh herbs, spices, dry cereals, nuts, onions, and oranges.
Aw=0.78-0.86 (minimum for various species).

Industrial Uses

Roquefort and camembert cheese, salami-sausages starter culture; anti-bacterial antimicrobial penicillin, and anti-fungal antimicrobial griseofulvin.

Other Comments

Penicillium is one of the most common fungal genera, worldwide.
Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) produced: Penicillium commune produces 2-methyl-isoborneol, a heavy musty odor.

Potential Health Effects


Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).
Type III hypersensitivity pneumonitis: Cheese washer's lung, Woodman's lung, Moldy wall hypersensitivity.

Potential Opportunist or Pathogen

One species of Penicillium species, P. marneffei, is a cause of human infection. It has not yet been found in the United States.

Potential Toxin Production

Various toxins by different species: penicillic acid, peptide nephrotoxin, viomellein, xanthomegin, xanthocillin X, mycophenolic acid, roquefortine C & D, citrinin, penicillin, cyclopiazonic acid, isofumigaclavine A, penitrem A, decumbin, patulin citreoviridin, griseofulvin, verruculogen, ochratoxin, chrysogine, and meleagrin.

Laboratory Notes

Growth/Culture Characterisics

Grows readily on general fungal media. Colonies are usually shades of blue, green, and white.

Spore Trap Recognition

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

Tape Lift Recognition

Penicillium is readily identifiable on tape samples if sporulating structures are present. Old growth or samples with high numbers of spores may not exhibit sporulation structures necessary for identification and are therefore reported as "spores typical of Penicillium/Aspergillus."