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Aspergillus flavus: human pathogen, allergen and mycotoxin producer.

Authors
Journal
Microbiology
1350-0872
Publisher
Microbiology Society
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Immunology: Allergens
  • Animals
  • Immunology: Antigens
  • Fungal
  • Microbiology: Aspergillosis
  • Immunology: Aspergillus Flavus
  • Humans
  • Biosynthesis: Mycotoxins
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine

Abstract

Aspergillus infections have grown in importance in the last years. However, most of the studies have focused on Aspergillus fumigatus, the most prevalent species in the genus. In certain locales and hospitals, Aspergillus flavus is more common in air than A. fumigatus, for unclear reasons. After A. fumigatus, A. flavus is the second leading cause of invasive aspergillosis and it is the most common cause of superficial infection. Experimental invasive infections in mice show A. flavus to be 100-fold more virulent than A. fumigatus in terms of inoculum required. Particularly common clinical syndromes associated with A. flavus include chronic granulomatous sinusitis, keratitis, cutaneous aspergillosis, wound infections and osteomyelitis following trauma and inoculation. Outbreaks associated with A. flavus appear to be associated with single or closely related strains, in contrast to those associated with A. fumigatus. In addition, A. flavus produces aflatoxins, the most toxic and potent hepatocarcinogenic natural compounds ever characterized. Accurate species identification within Aspergillus flavus complex remains difficult due to overlapping morphological and biochemical characteristics, and much taxonomic and population genetics work is necessary to better understand the species and related species. The flavus complex currently includes 23 species or varieties, including two sexual species, Petromyces alliaceus and P. albertensis. The genome of the highly related Aspergillus oryzae is completed and available; that of A. flavus in the final stages of annotation. Our understanding of A. flavus lags far behind that of A. fumigatus. Studies of the genomics, taxonomy, population genetics, pathogenicity, allergenicity and antifungal susceptibility of A. flavus are all required.

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