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Penicillium - What is it?

200+ species. Ubiquitous, Cosmopolitan, one of the most commonly found molds.  Often produces microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s) that give the distinctive heavy, musty odor.

Penicillium Mold

Microscopic View Penicillium Mold

Where does penicillium grow outside?

Often found growing in soil, decaying plant debris, compost piles, and fruit rot.

Where does penicillium grow inside?

Often found growing indoors on water-damaged building materials (chipboard/OSB, plywood, wallpaper, glue) as well as on food items (dried foods, cheeses, fruits, herbs, spices, cereals)

Is this “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 about Penicillium

Is it a potential allergen?

Some people may experience hay fever, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis:  cheese washer’s lung, woodman’s lung, moldy wall hypersensitivity.  Due to it’s allergenic capabilities, professional mold remediation is recommended.

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

Very rare.

Can penicillium produce toxins?**

These include:  penicillic acid, peptide nephrotoxin, viomellein, xanthomegin, xanthocillin X, mycophenolic acid, roquefortine C & D, citrinin, penicillin, cyclopiazonic acid, isofumigaclavine A, penitrem A, decumbin, patulin citreoviridin, griseofulvin, verruculogen, ochratoxin, chrysogine, and meleagrin.


Identification of Penicillium

Can penicillium be identified via Air Sampling?

Although indistinguishable from Aspergillus species

Can it be identified via Direct Sampling?

Easily identified if sporulating structures are observed, otherwise may be indestiguishable from Aspergillus species



What are some of its industrial uses?

Used in roquefort and camembert cheese, salami-sausages starter culture; anti-bacterial antimicrobial penicillin, and anti-fungal antimicrobial griseofulvin.

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