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General Information about Alternaria


Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Pezizomycotina (Subdivision) > Dothideomycetes (Class) > Pleosporomycetidae (Subclass) > Pleosporales (Order) > Pleosporaceae (Family)
50+ species

Ubiquitous, Cosmopolitan. Dry spore type, Airborne  

What are some of this molds characteristics? 

Grows well on cellulose surfaces.  Does not require significant amounts of water.

Where does alternaria grow outside? 

Soil, sewage, vegetation, plant debris, textiles, food stuffs. Acts as plant pathogen mainly to weaker plants.

Where does it grow inside? 

Common on many different substrates.

Is alternaria considered a "black mold"?

The term black mold (also "toxic black mold") is not scientific but is widely used by the media to usually reference Stachybotrys molds.

Health Concerns with Alternaria

Is alternaria a potential allergen?

Some people may experience hay fever, asthma, or other hypersensitivity.  

Does it present any unique human risks? (as pathogen, opportunist or contaminant)*

Can affect respiratory system, skin, nails.  Presents greatest risk to immunosuppressed and wound injury individuals.  Most species do not grow at 37°C (body temperature)

Can alternaria produce toxins?** 

Alternariol (used as an antifungal) produced by A. alternata. Other metabolites produced include AME (alternariol monomethylether), tenuazonic acid, and altertoxins (mutagenic).

Identification of Alternaria

Can alternaria be identified via Air Sampling? 

Sometimes spores cannot be distinguished from Ulocladium species.

Can alternaria be identified via Direct Sampling?


What are some of alternaria's industrial uses? 

Used to control noxious weeds and other plants

Other comments: 


*Other types of disease not listed in this description may also result from exposure.    

**Indicates potential toxin production by given species of this genus.  Not all toxins are produced by all species and the extent is highly dependent on environmental conditions.  List may not be all inclusive due to new discoveries in research.