Glossary of Molds and Terminology

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A

Absidia sp.Allergenic. A zygomycete fungus which is considered common to the indoor environment. May cause mucormycosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites. Absidia conidia have been an invasive infection agent in AIDS and neutropenic patients, as well as, agents of bovine mycotic abortions, and feline subcutaneous abscesses.

Acremonium sp. (Cephalosporium sp.) — Allergenic and toxic. Can produce a trichothecene toxin, which is toxic if ingested. It was the primary fungus identified in at least two houses where the occupant complaints were nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can produce mycetomas, infections of the nails, onychomycosis, corneal ulcers, eumycoticmycetoma, endophthalmitis, meningitis, and endocarditis.

Adiaspiromycosis — A rare pulmonary (of the lungs) mycosis of humans and of rodents and other animals that dig in soil or are aquatic.

Aflatoxin — A fungal toxin which can damage the liver and may lead to liver cancer. Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mycotoxin produced by two types of mold: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasticus. At least 13 types of aflatoxin are produced in nature with aflatoxin B1considered as the most toxic. While the presence of Aspergillus flavus does not always indicate harmful levels of aflatoxin, it does mean that the potential for aflatoxin production is present.

Allergic Alveolitis — Inflammation of the alveolus (a small cell containing air in the lungs, a sac–like dilation of the alveolar ducts in the lung).

Alternaria sp.Allergenic. Commonly found in outdoor air, on many kinds of plants and food products and prefers rotting farmland manure. It may be resistant to fungicides. Alternaria is considered an occasional contaminant of water damaged building materials which contain cellulose. Although Alternaria is a notable source of fungal allergy, pathogenic infections are also reported infrequently.

Antigen — A substance that is capable of causing the production of an antibody. Antigens may or may not lead to an allergic reaction.

Arthrographis spp.Should be considered allergenic. A species of Arthrographis, A. kalrae, has been documented in onychomycosis and has been recovered from the skin, nails, and respiratory sites but has not been established as an etiological agent. No toxic related diseases are of record to date.

Aspergillosis — A large spectrum of diseases caused by members of the genus Aspergillus. The three principal entities are: allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, pulmonary aspergilloma and invasive aspergillosis. Colonization of the respiratory tract is common. The clinical manifestation and severity of the disease depends upon the immunologic state of the patient.

Aspergillus sp.Allergenic, pathogenic, and toxic. A genus of fungi containing approximately 150 recognized species. All of the species contained in this genus should be considered allergenic. Various Aspergillus species are a common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchospasms. Chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. Members of this genus are reported to cause avariety of opportunistic infections of the ears and eyes. Severe pulmonary infections may also occur. Many species produce mycotoxins, which may be associated with disease in humans and other animals. Toxin production is dependent on the species or a strain within a species and on the food source for the fungus. Some of these toxins have been found to be carcinogenic in animal species. Several toxins are considered potential humancarcinogens.

Aspergillus clavatus Allergenic. This distinctive species is a common soil fungus with widespread distribution in soils in warmer climates. Not common in indoor environments, but is quite widely distributed in some kinds of foods, especially cereals, and it has been frequently associated with the brewing industry. No toxic or invasive diseases have been documented to date.

Aspergillus flavusAllergenic, pathogenic, and toxic. This species may be recovered from the indoor environment; it has been reported in water damaged carpets. Its presence has been associated with reports of asthma. Approximately 50% of the strains are capable of producing a group of mycotoxins– in the aflatoxin group.Aflatoxins are known animal carcinogens. There is limited evidence to suggest that this toxin is also a human carcinogen.The production of the fungal toxin is dependent on the growth conditions and on the substrate used as a food source. The toxin is poisonous to humans by ingestion and may directly affect the liver. Experiments have indicated that it is teratogenic and mutagenic. This fungus may also result in disease via inhalation and is associated with aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. This fungus is occasionally identified as the cause of corneal, otomycotic, and infections in thenasal cavity.

Aspergillus fumigatus Allergenic and pathogenic. This species may be recovered from the indoor environment. Considered as a principle cause for both invasive and allergic aspergillosis. This organism will particularly affect individuals who are immune compromised. It is considered a true human pathogen. No toxic diseases have been documented to date.

Aspergillus glaucus Allergenic and pathogenic. This species may be recovered from the indoor environment. It has been reported as a common outdoor fungus in the winter. This species is only occasionally pathogenic and has been associated with sinusitis, otitis, cerebral, orofacial, and pulmonary infections. No toxic diseases have been documented to date.

Aspergillus nidulansAllergenic and toxic. This species is not considered common to indoor environments. This species has been reported in a variety of animal and human infections including invasive and systemic disease including aspergillosis of the lungs and/or disseminated aspergillosis. It can produce themycotoxin sterigmatocysti that has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage in lab animals.

Aspergillus nigerAllergenic. This species is considered common to indoor environments. It is common in secondary organisms following bacterial otitis and is more commonly being implicated in pulmonary disease in immune compromised hosts. It has also been reported to cause skin infections.

Aspergillus terreusToxic. 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 a variety of mycotoxins, including itaconic acid, patulin, mevinolin, and citrinin, which may be associated with disease in humans and animals.

Aureobasidium sp.Allergenic. This species has been associated with dermatitis, peritonitis, pulmonary infection, and invasive disease in AIDS patients. Probably acquired by traumatic implantation. May be recovered as a contaminant from human cutaneous sites. No toxic diseases have been documented to date. Commonly considered a contaminant.

B

BeauveriaAllergenic. Not considered to be common to indoor environments. Reported to cause mycotic keratitis and occasional pulmonary infections. No toxic diseases have been documented to date.

Bipolaris sp.Toxic. Common to both indoor and outdoor environments. Older obsolete names include Drechslera and Helminthosporium. This fungus produces large spores, which would be expected to be deposited in the upper respiratory tract. Various species of this fungus can produce the mycotoxinsterigmatocystin—that has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage when ingested by laboratory animals.

Botrytis sp.Allergenic. No toxic or invasive diseases have been documented to date. Commonly considered a contaminant.

Bronchospasm — Constriction of the air passages of the lung (as in asthma) by spasmodic contraction of the bronchial muscles.

C

Carcinogen(ic) — Causing cancer or contributing to the causation of cancer.

Cephalosporium sp. — See Acremonium sp.

Chaetomium sp. — Commonly considered a contaminant, but are also encountered as causative agents of infections in humans.

Chromoblastomycosis — Chronic localized infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that follows the traumatic implantation of the etiologic agent.

Chrysosporium spp. — Common outdoor mold. Rare agents of onychomycosis, skin lesions, endocarditis, and uncommon agents of the pulmonary mycosisadiaspiromycosis. No toxic diseases have been documented to date.

Cladosporium sp. (Hormodendrum sp.) — Allergenic. Most commonly identified outdoor fungus. It can cause mycosis. Produces greater than 10 antigens. Antigensin commercial extracts are of variable quality and may degrade within weeks of preparation. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Cunninghamella sp. — Can cause disseminated and pulmonary infections in immune compromised hosts.

Curvularia sp.Allergenic. It may cause corneal infections, mycetoma and infections in immune compromised hosts.

Cutaneous — Pertaining to the skin.

D

Dematiaceous — Denoting dark colored fungi.

Dermatitis — Inflammation of the skin, either due to direct contact with an irritating substance, or to an allergic reaction. Symptoms include redness, itching, and in some cases, blistering.

Deratomycosis — Fungal infection of the skin.

Disseminated — Scattered, distributed over a considerable area.

Drechslera sp. — See Bipolaris sp.

E

Edema — The swelling of soft tissues as a result of excess water accumulation.

Endocarditis — Inflammation of the endocardium (= innermost layer of the heart cavity). Characterized by the presence of growths on the lining itself or the heart valves.

Endophthalmitis — Inflammation of the internal structures of the eye.

Epicoccum sp.Allergenic. Commonly known as a contaminant. No toxic or invasive diseases documented to date.

Etiological — The cause or origin of a disease or disorder as determined by medical diagnosis.

Exophiala sp. — Causes the superficial dematiaceous infection, tinea nigra as well as keratomycosis and phaeohyphomycosis. Some species cause infections of the brain and eye as well as cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue.

Exserohilum sp. — Causes phaeohyphomycosis, most commonly in the nasal sinuses, subcutaneous tissue and cornea. Fatal dissemination infections have been reported but are rare.

F

Fonsecaea sp. — Commonly causes chromoblastomycosis (skin lesions). Rarely causes internal infections.

Fusarium sp.Allergenic and toxic. A common soil fungus. It is often found in humidifiers. Several species in this genus can produce potent trichothecene toxins. The trichothecene(scirpene) toxin targets the following systems: circulatory, alimentary, skin, and nervous. Produces vomitoxin on grains during unusually damp growing conditions. Symptoms may occur either through ingestion of contaminated grains or possibly inhalation of spores. Thegenera can produce hemorrhagic syndrome in humans (alimentary toxic aleukia). This is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and extensive internal bleeding. It is also frequently involved in eye, skin and nail infections.

G

Geotrichum sp. — The species Geotrichum candidum can cause a secondary infection (geotrichosis) in association with tuberculosis. This rare disease can cause lesions of the skin, bronchi, mouth, lung, and intestine.

Gliocladium sp.Allergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. No toxic diseases caused to date.

Graphium sp. — May be found as a contaminant. This genus is commonly considered non-pathogenic but may occasionally cause disease in severely immune compromised patients.

H

Hemorrhagic Syndrome — A disorder in which there is an abnormal discharge of blood from the blood vessels; profuse bleeding.

Hypersensitivity Pneumoniti — Inflammation of the lung secondary to viral or bacterial infection.

I

Immune Compromised — A condition where the immune system is not functioning properly.

K

Keratomycosis / Mycotic Keratitis — Fungal infection of the cornea.

M

Malbranchea sp. — has been isolated from a case with sinusitis. No other infection associated with Malbranchea has been reported so far.

Meningitis — Inflammation of the meninges (= the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

Microsporum sp. — Causes ringworm and other skin infections in humans. Usually does not invade living tissue, rather it colonizes the outermost layer. No toxic or invasive diseases documented to date.

Monilia sp.Allergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. This fungus produces soft rot of tree fruits. Other members produce a red bread mold. It is infrequently involved in corneal eye infections.

Mucor sp.Allergenic. May cause mucorosis in immune compromised individuals. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Mucormycosis — A fungal infection of the sinuses, brain or lungs that occurs primarily in people with immune disorders. Caused by a common fungi frequently found in the soil amongst decaying organisms. Conditions most commonly associated with mucormycosis include diabetes mellitus, chronic steriod use, metabolic acidosis, organ transplantation, leukemia/lympoma, treatment with deferoxamine, and AIDS.

Mucorosis — A disease caused by the mold genus

Mutagenic — Induces genetic mutation (= a change in the genetic material of an organism).

Mycetoma — A chronic infection involving the feet and characterised by the formation of localized lesions with multiple swellings and multiple draining sinuses.

Mycotic Keratitis — see KERATOMYCOSIS.

Mycosis — Any disease caused by fungus.

Mycotoxin — Any poisonous substance produced by a fungus.

N

Nigrospora sp.Allergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. Involvement in disease has been very rarely reported.

Non-sporulating FungiAllergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. This genus is commonly considered non-pathogenic. Often associated with allergic symptoms. Other common names include Hyaline mycelia and mycelia sterilia.

O

Onychomycosis — Fungal infection of the nails.

Ophthalmic — Pertaining to the eye.

Otomycosis — An infection due to a fungus in the external auditory canal, usually unilateral, with scaling, itching, and pain as the primary symptoms.

P

Paecilomyces sp.Allergenic. The species 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 may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate, i.e. wallpapers covered with paris green.

Paecilomycosis — A systemic (mainly pulmonary) infection caused by the fungus of the genus Paecilomyces

Pathogen(ic) — An agent of disease. A disease producer. The term pathogen is most commonly used to refer to infectious organisms. These include bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Penicillium sp.Allergenic and toxic. A wide number of organisms have placed in this genera. Identification to species is difficult. Often found in aerosol samples. Commonly found in soil, food, cellulose, and grains. It is also found in paint and compost piles. It may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. Some species can producemycotoxins. Common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-typehypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchospasms; chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema.

Percutaneous — Performed through the skin, as injection of radiopaque material in radiological examination or the removal of tissue for biopsy accomplished by a needle.

Peritonitis — Inflammation of the peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdominal cavity). It is attended by abdominal pain and tenderness, constipation, vomiting and moderate fever.

Phaeohyphomycosis — A group of mycotic infections characterized by the presence of dematiaceous (dark–walled) septate hyphae (of mold) and sometimes yeast or a combination of both in tissue.

Phoma sp.Allergenic. It may have antigens, which cross-react with those of Alternaria sp. It may cause phaeohyphomycosis, a systematic or subcutaneousdisease.

Pithomyces sp. — Commonly considered a contaminant and, very rarely, has been implicated as an etiological agent in immune compromised hosts. Causes facial eczema in ruminants.

Pseudallescheria boydii — Causes mycetoma and phaeohyphomycosis, commonly infectingsubcutaneous tissue, bones, brain, eyes, lungs, sinuses, meninges, and other body sites. Disseminatedinfection has been reported in immune compromisedpatients.

R

Rhizomucor sp.Allergenic. It may cause mucormycosis in immune compromised individuals. It is often linked to occupational allergy. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Rhizopus sp.Allergenic. It may cause mucormycosis in immune compromised individuals. It is often linked to occupational allergy. The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infection may have multiple sites.

Rhodotorula sp.Allergenic. Positive skin tests have been reported. It has colonized in terminally ill patients.

S

Scopulariopsis sp.Allergenic. It may produce arsine gas if growing on arsenic substrate. This can occur on wallpapers covered with paris green. It has been found growing on a wide variety of materials including house dust. It is associated with type III allergy.

Scytalidium sp. — Known to commonly cause nail and skin infections; there are also rare reports of more deep-seated infections, e.g., subcutaneous abscesses, sinusitis, endophthalmitis, lymphadenitis and fungemia in immune compromisedpatients.

Sepedonium sp. — Commonly considered a contaminant. This genus is commonly considered non-pathogenic.

Sinusitis — Inflammation of the lining membrane of any of the hollow areas (sinuses) of the bone of the skull around the nose.

Sporothrix sp. — Can cause sporotrichosis, however this usually only occurs in populations which are immune compromised.

Sporotrichum sp.Allergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. Has been found in sputa from patients with chronic respiratory disorders, but the significance is unclear.

Sporptrichosis — The infection caused by the dimorphic fungus Sporothrix sp. Sporotrichosis is acquired through direct inoculation into the skin and rarely via inhalation of conidia (spores). As a consequence, the majority of cases are localized lesions affecting the skin and subcutaneous tissues.

Stachybotrys sp.Toxic. Several strains of this fungus (S. atra, S. chartarum and S. alternans are synonymous) may produce a trichothecene mycotoxin– Satratoxin H – which is poisonous by inhalation. The toxins are present on the fungal spores. This is a slow growing fungus on media. It does not compete well with other rapidly growing fungi. The dark colored fungi grows on building material with a high cellulose content and a low nitrogen content. Areas with relative humidity above 55% and are subject to temperature fluctuations are ideal for toxin production. Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, and generalized malaise. The toxins produced by this fungus will suppress the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow. Animals injected with the toxin from thisfungus exhibited the following symptoms: necrosis and hemorrhage within the brain, thymus, spleen, intestine, lung, heart, lymph node, liver, and kidney. The mycotoxin is also reported to be a liver and kidney carcinogen. Affects by absorption of the toxin in the human lung are known as pneumomycosis. This organism is rarely found in outdoor samples. It is usually difficult to find in indoor air samples unless it is physically disturbed. The spores are in a gelatinous mass. The spores will diereadily after release. The dead spores are still allergenic and toxigenic. Percutaneous absorption has caused mild symptoms.

Stemphylium sp. Allergenic. Commonly considered a contaminant. No toxic or invasive diseases documented to date.

Sterigmatocystin — A carcinogenic mycotoxin produced in high yields by strains of the common molds, Apergillus versicolor, A. nidulans, and an unidentified species of Bipolaris. It causes necrosis of the liver and kidney.

Subcutaneous — Situated or occurring directly under the skin.

Syncephalastrum sp. — Commonly considered a contaminant. Can cause a respiratory infection characterized by a solid fungal ball.

T

Teratogenic — Able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus.

Tinea Nigra — A superficial fungal infection of the stratum corneum (= skin layer).

Toxigen(ic) — Producing a toxin or toxic effect. Most common use is to refer to infectious organisms, especially bacteria.

Trichoderma sp.Allergenic and toxic. Commonly considered a contaminant. Occasional reports of infection in immune compromised patients. Several cases of peritonitishave been reported in patients undergoing peritoneal dialysis. It produces antibiotics, which are toxic to humans.

Trichophyton sp.Allergenic. Can cause ring worm, athlete’s foot, skin, nail, beard, and scalp. Found on soil and skin.

Trichosporon spp. — A part of the normal flora of mouth, skin and nails, it is the causative agent of superficial and deep infections in humans.

Trichothecene Toxin — A toxic chemical produced by fusarium sp., stachybotrys, trichoderma and other fungi, and some higher plants. They may contaminate food or feed grains, induce hemorrhage in lungs and brain, and damage bone marrow due to protein and DNA synthesis inhibition.

Trichothecene Mycotoxin — Produced by Fsaria, Sachybotrys, Tichoderma and other fungi, and some higher plants. They may contaminate food or feed grains, induce emesis and hemorrhage in lungs and brain, and damage bone marrow due to protein and DNA synthesis inhibition.

U

Ulocladium sp. — Commonly considered a contaminant. It is widely distributed in nature, especially the soil and decaying plants, and may be isolated from paper, wood, and textiles. May rarely cause human disease, including phaeohyphomycosis and particularly subcutaneousinfections.

Ustilago sp. — Seldom implicated in human disease, but may be inhaled and subsequently isolated from sputum specimens.

V

Verticillium sp. — Commonly known as a contaminant. Rarely causes inflammation of the cornea.

Y

Yeast — Various yeasts are commonly identified on air samples. They may cause health problems if a person has had previous exposure and developed hypersensitivity. Yeasts may be allergenic to susceptible individuals when present in sufficient concentrations.

Z

Zygomycete — A class of fungi that reproduces involving the formation of zygospores. The group lacks motile spores.