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 ~  Abstract
 ~  Introduction
 ~  Materials and Me...
 ~  Results
 ~  Discussion
 ~  Acknowledgements
 ~  References
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 242-246

Dermatophytes, related keratinophilic and opportunistic fungi in indoor dust of houses and hospitals

1 Department of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Dr. H.S. Gour University, Sagar - 470 003, India
2 Department of Botany, Christ Church College, Kanpur - 208 001, India

Date of Submission07-Nov-2008
Date of Acceptance14-Jan-2009
Date of Web Publication4-Jul-2009

Correspondence Address:
RKS Kushwaha
Department of Botany, Christ Church College, Kanpur - 208 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0255-0857.53207

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 ~ Abstract 

Dermatophytes, related keratinophilic and opportunistic fungi were isolated from indoor dust samples of 46 hospitals and 47 houses in Kanpur. A total of 19 fungi represented by 11 genera were isolated by the hair-baiting technique from 230 and 235 samples from hospitals and houses respectively. The isolated fungi are Acremonium implicatum (Indian Type Culture Collection) ITCC 5266 , A. strictum (Germplasm Centre for Keratinophilic Fungi) GPCK 1137 , Aphanoascus fulvescens GPCK 1081 , Arthroderma simii GPCK 1275 , Chrysosporium queenslandicum ITCC 5270 , C. indicum ITCC 5269 , C. pannicola GPCK 1022 , C. tropicum GPCK 1269 , Ctenomyces serratus ITCC 5267 , Gymnoascus reessii ITCC 5265 , Malbranchea fulva GPCK 1075 , Malbranchea pulchella ITCC 5268 , Micosporum gypseum GPCK 1038 , Microsporum cookei GPCK 2001, M. fulvum GPCK 2002 , Paecilomyces lilacinum GPCK 1080 , Penicillium expansum GPCK 1082, Trichophyton mentagrophytes GPCK 2003 and T. terrestre GPCK 2004. In hospitals, the minimum frequency was of Ctenomyces serratus ITCC 5267 while the maximum frequency was of Arthroderma simii GPCK 1275 . In houses, Chrysosporium queenslandicum ITCC 5270 and C. tropicum GPCK 1269 were with minimum and maximum frequencies respectively. This makes the first report of these fungi with keratinolytic ability in the indoor dust of hospitals and houses.

Keywords: Dermatophytes, hospitals, houses, keratinophilic fungi

How to cite this article:
Singh I, Mishra A, Kushwaha R. Dermatophytes, related keratinophilic and opportunistic fungi in indoor dust of houses and hospitals. Indian J Med Microbiol 2009;27:242-6

How to cite this URL:
Singh I, Mishra A, Kushwaha R. Dermatophytes, related keratinophilic and opportunistic fungi in indoor dust of houses and hospitals. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2020 May 31];27:242-6. Available from:

 ~ Introduction Top

Keratinophilic fungi have been receiving considerable attention in recent days as these include dermatophytes and are able to degrade various types of keratinous substrates. Several opportunistic keratinophilic fungi with pathogenic potential are emerging rapidly. The hair-baiting technique of isolation of these fungi from soil added new keratinophilic fungi. The teleomorph development of many of these fungi on soil hair is an additional outbreak. Soil-inhabiting keratinophilic fungi are now reported from almost all the habitats of the world. Several scattered reports of occurrence of these fungi in India are appearing. Taxonomic account of human pathogenic fungi [1] and keratinophilic fungal flora of India [2] are reviewed. Chrysosporium , the most abundant genus of keratinophilic fungi is also reviewed and its pathogenic potential is discussed. [3] In addition to the pathogenic potential of keratinophilic fungi, their other relevance like enzyme keratinase to degrade prion, use in feather meal production and dehairing of hides etc. are recently reported. [4]

In recent days, human exposure to the potentially pathogenic fungi is a matter of health risk. Several non-pathogenic fungi are now being reported as opportunistic pathogen and their occurrence in various environments where they are naturally occurring is not directly investigated. Identifying both environments and fungi where people are exposed to them is of major health concern. [5] The hospitals and houses are continuously inhabited by human beings. Their floor dusts become heavily contaminated from different sources, particularly shoes, barefoot and/or domestic animals and indoor air flora, which settle down during the night. The indoor dust (soil) of hospitals and houses in the city of Kanpur was screened for potentially pathogenic dermatophytes, related keratinophilic and opportunistic fungi in order to find out their occurrence and ability to perforate human hair.

 ~ Materials and Methods Top

The indoor floor dust (soil) samples from 46 hospitals and 47 houses in the city of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, were collected during October-December in the morning before normal sweeping as it settles down during the night. Five dust samples from each hospital and house were collected in pre-sterilized  Petri dish More Detailses and brought to the laboratory. The dust samples were baited with black human hair collected from a 20-year-old girl from the rural locality, which were cut into 2-3 cm pieces, washed and sterilized at 15 lbs pressure for 10 min. Petri dishes containing 20 g dust sample baited with human hair pieces were moistened with sterilized water and incubated at 282C. As and when hair segments showed any fungal growth, these were transferred to Sabourauds dextrose agar (Hi Media Laboratories, Mumbai, India) supplemented with 0.05 mg/L chloramphenicol (CDH, New Delhi, India) and 0.5mg/L cycloheximide (Sigma, St Louis, MO, USA) and incubated at 282C. The fungi were cultured on Sabourauds dextrose agar and identified. The hair perforation ability of the isolated fungi was tested by inoculating the fungal spore suspension, prepared from eight-day-old colonies, on sterilized human hair pieces. Hair pieces were observed under an Olympus BX40 microscope [Olympus Optical Co. Ltd. Tokyo, Japan] after 15 days of incubation. All the isolated fungi were deposited in Indian Type Culture Collection (ITCC), New Delhi, and Germplasm Centre for Keratinophillic Fungi (GPCK), Department of Botany, Christ Church College, Kanpur.

 ~ Results Top

A total of 19 fungal species represented by 11 genera were isolated from 230 and 235 samples from hospitals and houses, respectively. A total of 215 and 239 fungi were recovered from hospitals and houses. All the isolated fungi showed a positive hair perforation test, indicating their ability to digest human hair. Chrysosporium indicum and Arthroderma simii were found in 22 hospital soil samples whereas C. tropicun was found in 20 samples, Trichophyton mentagrophytes in 17 and Acremonium implicatum and C. pannicola were restricted to 14 samples only. Ctenomyces serratus and Microsporum cookie showed their least presence in two and three samples only. The JB Hospital, Kanpur Nursing Home and the LLR Hospital soil samples showed less than 10 fungi, with the least being two. In hospital soil, Acremonium implicatum was 100% in two samples of the Diagnostic Centre and Kanpur Nursing Home and 60% in 12 other hospital samples. Among three species of Chrysosporium , C. indicum and C. pannicola were 100% in eight and 10 hospital samples respectively [Table 1]. Arthroderma simii was 100% in eight hospitals and the remaining were 100% in one to three hospitals, except Microsporum fulvum , Ctenomyces serratus and Penicillium lilacinum . C. tropicum occurred in 25 and Microsporum gypseum in 24 houses whereas Penicillium lilacinum occurred in 22 houses and the rest of the fungi in less than 20 houses. C. queenslandicum , Malbranchea pulchella and Microsporum fulvum showed their presence in two or three houses only. All the houses showed presence of two to five fungi. A maximum of 11 fungi were present in the Gurudev Rawatpur soil. Of these, 13 houses showed presence of two or three fungi only. In soils from houses, C. indicum was present in 100% in 15 samples, C. tropicum in eight, C. pannicola in four and the remaining were 100% in one to three samples [Table 2].

In hospitals, fungal species in increasing frequency are Ctenomyces serratus ITCC 5267 > Microsporum cookei GPCK 2001 > Penicillium expansum GPCK 1082 > Gymnoascus reessii ITCC 5265 > Malbranchea pulchella ITCC 5268 > Malbranchea fulva GPCK 1075 > M. fulvum GPCK 2002 > Aphanoascus fulvescens GPCK 1081 > A. strictum GPCK 1137 > C. queenslandicum ITCC 5270 > Micosporum gypseum GPCK 1038 > Trichophyton terrestre GPCK 2004 > Paecilomyces lilacinum GPCK 1080 > Acremonium implicatum ITCC 5266 > C. pannicola GPCK 1022 > T. mentagrophytes GPCK 2003 > C. tropicum GPCK 1269 > C. indicum ITCC 5269 > Arthroderma simii GPCK 1275. In houses, the fungi in increasing frequency are C. queenslandicum ITCC 5270 > Malbranchea pulchella ITCC 5268 > M. fulvum GPCK 2002 > Aphanoascus fulvescens GPCK 1081 > T. terrestre GPCK 2004 > T. mentagrophytes GPCK 2003 > C. pannicola GPCK 1022 > Gymnoascus reessii ITCC 5265 > Penicillium expansum GPCK 1082 > Acremonium implicatum ITCC 5266 > A. strictum GPCK 1137 > Malbranchea fulva GPCK 1075 > Microsporum cookei GPCK 2001 > Ctenomyces serratus ITCC 5267 > Arthroderma simii GPCK 1275 > C. indicum ITCC 5269 > Paecilomyces lilacinum GPCK 1080 > Micosporum gypseum GPCK 1038 > C. tropicum GPCK 1269 .

 ~ Discussion Top

T. terrestre and T. mentagrophytes isolated here showed positive hair perforation. T. mentagrophytes is reported as the causal agent of tinea pedis, tinea corporis, tinea cruris and onychomycosis. Arthroderma simii showed diverse teleomorphs in Microsporum , Trichophyton and Chrysosporium . Microsporum gypseum , a common geophilic fungus, is isolated from 13 hospital dusts, causes tinea corporis and tinea capitis in humans and is also reported from cats, dogs and rodents. M. fulvum is geophilic and rarely infects man and animals, and was found in 17 hospital dust samples. Penicillium expansum causes keratitis. Penicillium lilacinum causes several types of infections. [6] C. tropicum is the probable cause of dermatomycoses. [3] C . pannicola is found to be involved in superficial infection in human and skin infection in dogs. Aphanoascus fulvescens was reported in several skin infections in man and animals. Acremonium strictum causes invasive infection in neotropenic patients. M. cookie is a geophilic fungus, reported from dogs and monkeys, with no certainty existing in its pathogenecity to man.

There were some studies on non-keratinophilic and pathogenic fungi in Indian soil. But these fungi were not reported from indoor hospital and house dust nor was their hair perforating ability determined. However, Vidyasagar et al. [7] reported keratinophilic fungi from hospital dust and soils of public places from Gulburga, India. Kushwaha [8] reported dermatophytes and keratinophilic fungi from hospital waste collected outside. Arvanitidou et al. [9] isolated 30 filamentous fungi from hospital and potable water, including dominating Penicillium , Aspergillus and Acremonium species . Dermatophytes and their relatives were reported from clinical specimens of different parts of India. [10] Kumari et al. [11] isolated 46 fungi from 40 soil samples of Manipal. Their study included Cunninghmella, Fusarium, Aspergillus, Rhizopus, Pennicilium and Paecilomyces. Acremonium , Pseudoallescheria boydis and other pathogenic fungi were isolated from Indian soil. [12],[13] The present brief survey of hospitals and houses reports potentially pathogenic keratinophilic and other opportunistic fungi. The presence of these fungi in indoor dust samples of hospitals and houses indicates that indoor soil harbors some potentially pathogenic fungi which are able to penetrate and degrade hair. Certain other reports of these fungi in indoor environment, schools and parks have also been made. Mancianti and Papini [14] isolated Microsporun canis, M. gypseum, T. ajelloi, T. terrestre, T. mentagrophytes, Chrysosporium tropicum, Chrysosporium keratinophilum and Chrysosporium state of Arthroderma tuberculatum from floors of 50 veterinary clinics of Italy. Shadzi et al. [15] isolated 214 keratinophilic fungi from the soil of schools and parks in Iran, of which C. keratinophilum was the most frequent. Saidi et al. [16] isolated 21 fungal genera from skin infection in poultry and correlated high prevalence of Chrysosporium species both from soil and skin lesions. The results of this study suggest the periodic survey of the indoor environment of hospitals and houses for continuous monitoring of the prevalence of potentially pathogenic fungi because the ascoma forming fungi survive for a longer period and may develop a reservoir of these fungi.

 ~ Acknowledgements Top

This work was carried out with financial assistance received from DST and MoEF.

 ~ References Top

1.Kushwaha RKS, Tripathi N. Human pathogenic fungi, a review. In: Animal and Human Pathogenic Fungi . In: Kushwaha RKS, editor. Jodhpur: Scientific Publishers; 2004. p. 185-250.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Tripathi N, Kushwaha RKS. Indian keratinophilic fungal flora: A Review. In: Fungi: Diversity and Biotechnology . In: Deshmukh SK, Rai MK, editors. Jodhpur: Scientific Publishers; 2005. p. 31-62.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Kushwaha RKS. The genus Chrysosporium its physiology and biotechnological potential. In: Biology of dermatophytes and other keratinophilic fungi. In: Kushwaha RKS, Guarro J, editors. Spain: Rev Iberoamericana Micol Bilbao; 2000. p. 66-76.   Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Kushwaha RKS, Gupta P. Relevance of keratinophilic fungi. Curr Sci 2008;94:706-7.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Madisen AM, Hansen VM, Meyling NV, Eilenberg J. Human exposure to airborne fungi from genera used as biocntrol agents in plant protection. Ann Agric Environ Med 2007;14:5-24.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Hoog de GS, Guarro J, Gene J, Figueras MJ. Atlas of clinical fungi. CBS, Utrecht. Netherlands and Universitat Rovira I Virgilli, Reus Spain: 2000. p. 1-1126.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Vidyasagar GM, Hosmani N, Shivkumar D. Keratinophilic fungi isolated from hospital dust and soil of public places at Gulbarga, India. Mycopathologia 2005;159:13-21.  Back to cited text no. 7  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
8.Kuswaha RKS. Dermatophytes and non dermatophytes in hospital waste. 13Cong Inter Soc Human Animal Mycol. 1997; 036 Abs.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Arvanitidou M, Kanallou, K Constantinidis TC, Katsouyannopoulos V. The occurrence of fungi in hospital and community potable waters. Lett Appl Microbiol 1999;29:81-4.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Sarma S, Borthakur AK. A clinico epidemiological study of dermatophytes in North East India. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2007;73:427-8.  Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal
11.Kumari GR, Mahrora S, Rao PS. Prevalence of non keratinophilic fungi in the soil. Indian J Med Microbiol 2005;23:144-5.  Back to cited text no. 11  [PUBMED]  Medknow Journal
12.Gugnani HC, Shrivastava JB. Occurrence of pathogenic fungi in soil. Indian J Med Res 1972;60:40-7.  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Pankajlakshmi VV, Taralalakshmi VV. Mycetoma in the tropics. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 1984;27:233-8.  Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Mancianti F, Papini R. Isolation of keratinophilic fungi from the floors of private veterinary clinics in Italy. Vet Res Commu 1996;20:161-6.  Back to cited text no. 14    
15.Shadzi S, Chadeganipour M, Alimoradi M, Isolation of keratinophilic fungi from elementary schools and public parks in Isfahan, Iran. Mycoses 2002;45:496-9.  Back to cited text no. 15    
16.Saidi SA, Das P, Sikdar A. Keratinophilic fungi of poultry and their environment in India. Indian J Comp Microbiol Immunol Infect Dis 2000;21:49-55.  Back to cited text no. 16    


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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