Vegetation: A source of air fungal bio-contaminant

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Courtesy of Springer

Airborne fungal counts and types were examined in three selected regions in Egypt. Two of the sampling sites are rural areas, one cultivated with chamomile and the second with vegetable. The third site is located in an urban area. A sedimentation method was used to isolate airborne fungal spores. Airborne fungal spore counts averaged 71\pm 19, 64\pm 14 and 175\pm 79 cfu/p/h in the urban, vegetable and chamomile growing areas, respectively. A total of 1486 fungal colonies belonging to 32 genera were identified. Alternaria (7.5–59.9%), Aspergillus (11.2–38.9%), Penicillium (9.5–15%) and Cladosporium (7.78–17.5%) were the predominant fungal genera found in all sampling sites. Alternaria (42–59.9%) and Aspergillus (38.9%) were the common fungal genera in the cultivated and urban areas, respectively. Vegetation is considered the main source of Alternaria, whereas Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium are related to local microenvironments and urbanization. Acremonium, Aureobasidium, Botrytis, Beauveria, Chlamydomyces, Chalara, Curvularia, Fusarium, Geotrichum, Trichothecium, Oidiodendron, Scopulariopsis, Spicaria, Stachybotrys chartarum, Torula and Thamnidium, were only detected in low percentages (0.11–1.8%) in the cultivated areas. Vegetation adds different fungal types into the air and their numbers vary according to vegetation type and weather conditions. Airborne fungal counts increased with temperature and decreased with rainfall and relative humidity. Airborne fungal spores have many implications in the spread of human and plant diseases. The presence of fungal spores in air, in spite of their counts, may raise arguments about their role in health complaints in a particular region, „i.e., the fungal concentration may be low but the predominant aeroallergen may be dangerous”.

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