Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 28 Jan 2024

Aspergillus (plural: Aspergilli) is a fungal genus consisting of approximately 250 species 1. It is a ubiquitous fungus frequently found in urban areas especially in decomposing organic matter or water-damaged walls and ceilings. Only a few Aspergillus species are associated with human disease 1.

The most common pathogenic species are Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus 3.

A. fumigatus is the commonest of the Aspergillus species to cause disease in humans 3. Inhalation of its spores is associated with pulmonary aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients. It may also be associated with hypersensitivity pneumonitis 1.

A. flavus produces aflatoxin which is both a toxin and a carcinogen, and which can potentially contaminate foods such as nuts 6.

  • A. niger

  • A. nidulans 

  • A. oryzae

  • A. terreus

  • A. glaucus

  • A. clavatus

Aspergillus was first cataloged in 1729 by the Italian priest and botanist Pier Antonio Micheli who likened their appearance at microscopy to an aspergillum, Latin for a holy water sprinkler 4,5.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Aspergillus fumigatus - microbiology
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  • Figure 2: Aspergillus fumigatus
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  • Case 1: angioinvasive aspergillosis
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