Different Types of Mold

There are hundreds and thousands of known fungi species. While some of them perform an important role in the ecosystem, the effect of certain molds can be dangerous or harmful to people. The list below highlights some of the most commonly found types of mold and brief descriptions of how they can affect us.

Absidia Found outdoors in soil and decaying vegetation. Found indoors in stored grains and other foods. Absidia is recognized as an allergen. In immunocompromised patients, pulmonary invasions, the meninges (brain or spinal cord), and kidney infections can result from exposure. Acremonium: Found outdoors in decaying or dead plant materials. Found indoors in food and wet, cellulose-based building materials. Grows well indoors when there is a high water content (>0.90 Aw). Type I (hay fever, asthma) and Type III (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) allergen. Known to cause infections in immunodeficient patients and persons with wound injuries. There are 100 known species.

Alternaria MoldAlternaria Common saprobe and pathogen of plants. Typically found on plant tissue, decaying wood, foods, soil, and air outdoors. Indoors it is found near condensation (window frames, showers), house dust (in carpets, and air). It also colonizes building supplies, computer disks, cosmetics, leather, optical instruments, paper, sewage, stone monuments, textiles, wood pulp, and jet fuel. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma) and Type III (hypersensitivity pneumonitis). Alternaria spores are one of the most common and potent indoor and outdoor airborne allergens. Additionally, Alternaria sensitization has been determined to be one of the most important factors in the onset of childhood asthma. Synergy with Cladosporium or Ulocladium may increase the severity of symptoms. 

Arthrinium Found outdoors in decaying plant material and soil. Found indoors on cellulose-containing materials. Arthrinium sphaerospermum is recognized as an allergen.

Ascospores Ascospores are found everywhere in nature. Ascospores are the result of sexual reproduction and are produced in a saclike structure called an ascus. All ascospores belong to members of the Phylum Ascomycota, which encompasses a plethora of genera worldwide.

Aspergillus/Penicillium These species are common contaminants on various substances. Aspergillus Penicillium MoldThis organism causes food spoilage and is an indicated organism for dampness indoors. Some of these species are known to produce mycotoxins. If health effects are noticed by occupants or workers, in an environment that evidences an amplification of Penicillium, identification of species is helpful. These especially opportunistic pathogens may cause respiratory infections. Some varieties produce mycotoxins and aflatoxins.

Basidiospores Found outdoors in gardens, forests, and woodlands. Plant pathogen. Indoors it is the agent of “dry rot” and other fungi causing white and brown wood rot. Grow and destroy the structural wood of buildings. Poria incrassata causes a particularly destructive dry rot in buildings. A probably common allergen. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Bipolaris Found outdoors in plant debris and soil. Found indoors on houseplants and indoor building materials. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma). Most commonly reported cause of allergic and chronic invasive sinusitis.

Botrytis MoldBotrytis Plant pathogen responsible for causing gray mold (B. cincera) on grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, low bush blueberries,  lettuce, cabbage, and onion. Indoors it is found on houseplants, fruits, and vegetables. Type I (hay fever, asthma) and type III (hypersensitivity) allergies.

Candida Found in leaves, flowers, soil, water and is an Candida Moldan inhabitant of the skin, mouth, and vagina. It is unknown what suitable substrates are in the indoor environment. Has been reported as an allergen. Occurs in patients taking drugs such as oral contraceptives and antibiotics. Cercospora: Found outdoors on plants. It is a plant parasite causing leaf spots. It is unknown what substrates it prefers indoors. Thrives in moderate to high humidity its allergenic potential is unknown.

Chaetomium Found outdoors in soil, seeds, dung, woody, and straw materials. Indoors found on damp sheetrock paper. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Cladosporium Mold

Cladosporium Found outdoors in the soil of many different types. Indoors it is found on many substrates including textiles, wood, and moist windowsills. Cladosporium grows at 0degrees C, and so is associated with refrigerated foods. It is a common and important allergen. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Cladophialophora (a form of Cladosporium) Phialophora Found outdoors in wood roots, stems and leaves of plants and grasses, and soil. It is a water-loving fungus. Allergenicity has not been studied.

Coprinus Found outdoors in wood, dung, litter, and soil. Industrial uses: Popular experimental organisms in genetic research.

Curvularia MoldCurvularia Found outdoors in plant saprobe and pathogen to cereal plants and soil. Found indoors in paper and wood products. Type I allergies (asthma and hay fever) A relatively common cause of allergic fungal sinusitis.

Dactylaria Found outdoors in decaying soil and leaves. Dactylaria species comprise a very small proportion of the fungal biota. There have been several reports of opportunistic infections caused by these genera but a true pathogenic role has not been firmly established. No information is available regarding upper respiratory health effects or toxicity. Allergenicity has not been studied.

Epicoccum Found outdoors in plant debris and soil. Found indoors in paper and textiles. Type I allergies (asthma and hay fever).

Fusarium MoldFusarium Found outdoors in soil. Occasionally found on a variety of substrates. Fusarium requires very wet conditions. Aw=0.86-0.91 (minimum for various species). Type I allergies (asthma and hay fever).

Gandomera Found outdoors on conifers and hardwoods worldwide, causing white rot, root rot, and stem rot. Ganoderma species are known to cause allergies in people on a worldwide scale.

Memnoniella Found outdoors in plant litter soil and many types of plants and trees. Found indoors on a variety of substrates (cellulolytic). Allergens are unknown. Very closely related to Stachybotrys.

Myxomycetes Found outdoors in decaying logs and stumps, particularly in forested areas. Only found occasionally indoors. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma)

Nigrospora Found outdoors in decaying plants and soil. Rarely Nigrospora Moldfound indoors. Type I allergies (asthma and hay fever).

Pithomyces Found outdoors in bark, leaf litter and soils. Indoors it is found in paper and requires high levels of moisture for spore germination. Its allergenic potential is unknown.

Rust MoldRust Rusts are parasitic to many types of plants. Rust fungi require a living plant host for growth. Type I allergens (hay fever, asthma). There are 5000 known species of rusts belonging to at least 150 different genera. Rusts are the cause of great economic losses on many cultivated plants.

Scopulariopsis (Hyphomycetes) Teleomorph

Microascus (Ascomycetes) Mainly soil-borne, but also frequently isolated from wood, grain, fruit, paper, and food such as meat and dairy products. Also isolated from indoor environments. Most species can liberate arsenic gaseous compounds that can lead to arsenic poisoning. Has recently been associated with invasive human infections.

Spegazzinia Found outdoors in plants and soil. It is unknown what substrates it is found on indoors. Allergenic properties are unknown.

Stachybotrys Stachybotrys grows on wet materials that contain cellulose and low nitrogen content. Usually but not limited to building materials such as wallboard paper (unfinished drywall) that has a high water activity over a long period of time. It produces several types of toxic metabolites and mycotoxins that can irritate skin and mucous membranes. One of the mycotoxins it produces called satratoxin is also toxic when inhaled. Extreme care should be taken when this organism is amplified indoors. Individuals with chronic exposure to the toxin produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, sore throat, 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.

Stemphylium Found outdoors in soil, wood, decaying vegetation. Some species found on leaves are plant pathogens. Indoors growth is rare. Known allergen. Shares allergens with Alternaria. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Trichoderma MoldTrichoderma Found outdoors in soil, wood, decaying vegetation. Some species found on leaves are plant pathogens. Indoors growth on paper, textiles, and wet wood. Known allergen. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma), Type III allergies (hypersensitivity), and has occasionally been associated with disease in immunocompromised individuals.

Torula Found outdoors in leaves, plant roots, plant litter, soil and wood. Indoors it is found in paper, wicker furniture and wood. Type I allergies (hay fever, asthma).

Ulocladium Found outdoors in soil, dung paint, grasses, fibers, wood, decaying plant material, paper and textiles. Indoors it is found in gypsum board, paper, paint, tapestries, jute and other straw materials. Ulocladium has a high water requirement. As an allergen it is major with type I allergies (hay fever, asthma) and it cross reacts with Alternaria, adding to the burden of Alternaria –sensitive patients.

Wallemia Found outdoors in hay and soil. Found indoors in jams, salted fish, mattresses, textiles and wood in crawl spaces. It is a Type I (hay fever and asthma) allergen.

Zygomycetes Found outdoors in decaying plant and animal matter. Found indoors in fruits and vegetables. It is a Type 1 (hay fever, asthma) and Type III (hypersensitivity) allergen. Many zygomycetes are extremely fast-growing and can inhibit other fungi when competing for food and space.

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