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Fungal Genet Biol. 2003 Jul;39(2):103-17.

Mycotoxin production by indoor molds.

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  • 1The Mycology Group, BioCentrum-DTU, Building 221, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800, Kgs Lyngby, Denmark.


Fungal growth in buildings starts at a water activity (a(w)) near 0.8, but significant quantities of mycotoxins are not produced unless a(w) reaches 0.95. Stachybotrys generates particularly high quantities of many chemically distinct metabolites in water-damaged buildings. These metabolites are carried by spores, and can be detected in air samples at high spore concentrations. Very little attention has been paid to major metabolites of Stachybotrys called spirocyclic drimanes, and the precise structures of the most abundant of these compounds are unknown. Species of Aspergillus and Penicillium prevalent in the indoor environment produce relatively low concentrations of mycotoxins, with the exception of sterigmatocystins that can represent up to 1% of the biomass of A. versicolor at a(w)'s close to 1. The worst-case scenario for homeowners is produced by consecutive episodes of water damage that promote fungal growth and mycotoxin synthesis, followed by drier conditions that facilitate the liberation of spores and hyphal fragments.

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