Mold and Spore Definitions

Alternaria sp. (mold) - Extremely widespread and ubiquitous.  Outdoors it may be isolated from samples of soil, seeds, and plants.  It is commonly found in outdoor samples.  It is often found in carpets, textiles, on horizontal surfaces in building interiors and on window frames.  The species Alternaria alternata is capable of producing tenuazonic acid and other toxic metabolites which may be associated with disease in humans or animals.  

Ascospores (mold) - Frequently found in the air after rain.  Most are plant pathogens and saprophytes.  Very little is known about the medical importance.

Aspergillus / Penicillium (mold) - They are important causes of food spoilage, grain deterioration, and toxin production. Both Aspergillus and Penicillium are known as inhalant allergens and some species can cause systemic infections and mycotoxicoses. They also play important roles in industrial fermentations for antibiotics, cheese production, and numerous fermented foods. 

Aspergillus (species) (mold) - There are over twenty species that are recognized as opportunistic pathogens usually resulting in pulmonary infections.  Mycotoxins are produced by members of this genera.  They are frequently associated with damp houses and cause airway allergies.  (note:  species name is italicized) 

Basidiospores (mold) - Mushroom Spores. In most regions this category is dominated by wood rotting fungi. They are most prevalent in forested areas and appear at night after a soaking rain. 

Cercospora (mold) - Considered a contaminant.

Chaetomium (mold) - Found on a variety of substrates containing cellulose including paper and plant compost. Reported to be an allergen.

Cladosporium (mold) - The most frequently encountered genera in the outdoor air.  Indoors it can be found in drip pans and the bottom of refrigerators, on moist window frames and on painted surfaces which are moist or in high humidity locations. It is one of the most common fungal airway allergens.

Curvularia (mold) - This fungus has wide distribution. It is a plant pathogen causing leaf spots, seedling blight and seed germination failure. It is reported to be allergenic.

Drechsleria / Helminth / Bipolaris (mold) - A contaminant.  Occasionally infect the eye, bones, aorta, sinuses

Epicoccum (mold) - A secondary invader of plant materials that grows at higher temperatures.  Even though it is considered a contaminant it can be a human skin pathogen at these higher temperatures.

Fusarium (mold) - A contaminant, but known to be an allergen causing eye, skin and nail infections along with causing sinusitis.

Hyphae - The principal element of the growing or vegetative form of a mold (filamentous fungi), characterized by branching tube-like growth.

Mycotoxin - A Toxin that the mold uses to inhibit or prevent the growth of other organisms.

Oidium (mold/mildew) - Commonly considered a contaminant.  Not know to be pathogenic. 

Pathogen - Any microorganism capable of causing disease in an animal, plant, or microorganism.

Pathogenic - Having the ability to produce or cause a disease.

Penicillium (mold) - Considered a contaminant, but found in a variety of diseases. It has been known to cause keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), external ear, respiratory, and urinary tract infections. Some strains produce toxins.

Periconia (mold) - Found on plants and grasses. Considered an allergen.

Peronospora - A contaminant, mildew, smut.  (see Basidiospores)

Pithomyces (mold) - Found in decaying wood, soil, and plant material.  It is not known to cause any infections in humans.

Rusts (mold) - A Teliomycetes that is commonly considered a plant pathogen.  Widespread amongst plants and vegetation.

Smuts (mold) - Same as Rusts.  A Teliomycetes that is commonly considered a plant pathogen.  Widespread amongst plants and vegetation.

Spore - A resistant and or disseminative form produced by certain bacteria or fungi (molds); spores are characteristically formed in response to particular (commonly adverse) environmental conditions. Mold (fungal) spores are specifically unicellular sexual or asexual reproductive bodies.

Stachybotrys (mold) - Grows on wet cellulose (paper) containing materials. It produces toxic metabolites which can irritate the skin and mucosal membranes. The trichothecenes produced are also toxic when inhaled. Care should be taken when this organism is present in the indoor environment.

Stemphylium (mold) - Commonly considered a contaminant.  Widespread distribution on decaying vegetation and in soil.

Tetraploa (mold) - Considered a contaminant.  Grows on a wide range of host plants.

Torula (mold) - Found in Soil. Considered an allergen

Toxin - A poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into cells, tissues or the entire target organism.

Ulocladium (mold) - Isolated from soil, wood and decaying plant material.  Grows on wet wall board and particle board.  Considered an allergen and contributes to allergy load in persons allergic to Alternaria.