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Aspergillus

Aspergillus is a fungal genus consisting of approximately 180 species.  It is a ubiquitous fungus found frequently in urban areas especially in decomposing organic matter or water damaged walls and ceilings. Only a few Aspergillus species are associated with human disease. 

Aspergillus species

The most common pathogenic species are Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus

Aspergillus fumigatus

A. fumigatus is the commonest of the Aspergillus species to cause disease in humans. Inhalation of its spores is associated with pulmonary aspergillosis in immunocomproised patients. It may also be assocaited with hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Aspergillus flavus

A. flavus produces aflatoxin which is both a toxin and a carcinogen, and which can potentially contaminate foods such as nuts. 

Aspergillus clavatus

A. clavatus is not commonly associated with disease.  It tends to cause an allergenic response and, in some cases, hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Other rarer species
  • A. niger
  • A. nidulans 
  • A. oryzae
  • A. terreus

Etymology

Aspergillus was first catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest Pier Antonio Micheli who likened their appearance at microscopy to an aspergilum (holy water sprinkler).

Related pathology

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