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Penicillium General Information

Like Aspergillus, Penicillium has worldwide distribution. Penicillium is one of the most common fungal genera, worldwide.

Penicillium Species Information

200+ species. Ubiquitous, Cosmopolitan

Penicillium Scientific Information

Aw=0.78-0.86 (minimum for various species).

Microscopically Penicillium species are identified by their dense broom-like spore-bearing structures (penicillin, latin for little brush), which are known as phialides. Conidiophores can be simple or branched. Phialides are flask shaped and produce chains of spores (conidia) from their tips. The spores are typically green in color, vary in shape but are often globose, with smooth to roughened walls.

Penicillium Growth Characteristics

Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) produced: Penicillium commune produces 2-methyl-isoborneol, a heavy musty odor

The genus Penicillium (in general) has a rapid growth rate. Colonies are usually green, blue-green, or grey green, but can be white, yellow or pinkish. Colonies are mostly velvety to powdery in texture.

one of the most commonly found molds. Often produces microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC's) that give the distictive heavy, musty odor.

Where is Penicillium found?

while Aspergillus species tend to frequent warmer tropical regions, Penicillium have the greatest proportion of their species growing in temperate areas.

Commonly found in house dust.

Penicillium species are most commonly found in soils, cellulose materials (plants, wood, paper, etc.), foods, grains, and compost piles. Indoors Penicillium can be associated with carpet, wallpaper, organic substances, and is also known to grow within fiberglass duct insulation.

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.

Often found growing outside in soil, decaying plant debris, compost piles and fruit rot. Often found growing indoors on water damaged building materials (chipboard/OSB, plywood, wallpaper, glue) as well as on food items (dried foods, cheeses, fruits, herbs, spices, cereals)

Is Penicillium Allergenic?

Penicillium species can cause allergic and asthmatic reaction in susceptible individuals.

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

Toxins Produced by Penicillium

Toxins produced by this mold include: 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.

Penicillium Health Effects

Penicillium is normally nonpathogenic with some exceptions. One example, Penicillium marneffei, a dimorphic species (contains yeast-like phase) capable of causing infection of the lymphatic system, the lungs, the liver, the skin, the spleen, and the bones. P. marneffei can enter through the skin, through inhalation, and all points of the digestion tract. Most common regions where infections occur are in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. he genus Penicillium has may species which produce mycotoxins. These mycotoxins include ochratoxin A (nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic, carcinogenic), penicillin (antibiotic), renitren A and roquefortine C (tremorgenic), patulin (nephrotoxic, carcinogenic), citrinin (carcinogenic), and griseofulvin (tumorigenic, teratogenic)

It is very rare that it presents a human risk as a pathogen but is can.

How to test for / identify the presence of Penicillium

Identification of Penicillium species is primarily based on the branching habit the species exhibits. Species identifications of Penicillia are difficult as it is usually the most common soil fungus encountered almost everywhere.

This mold can be identified through air sampling but it is indistinguishable from Aspergillus species This mold can be easily identified if sporulating structures are observed, otherwise may be indistiguishable from Aspergillus species Used in roquefort and camembert cheese, salami-sausages starter culture; anti-bacterial antimicrobial penicillin, and anti-fungal antimicrobial griseofulvin.

Is Penicillium a "black mold"


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