Tampere University of Technology

TUTCRIS Research Portal

Release and characteristics of fungal fragments in various conditions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-243
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Intact spores and submicrometer size fragments are released from moldy building materials during growth and sporulation. It is unclear whether all fragments originate from fungal growth or if small pieces of building materials are also aerosolized as a result of microbial decomposition. In addition, particles may be formed through nucleation from secondary metabolites of fungi, such as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). In this study, we used the elemental composition of particles to characterize the origin of submicrometer fragments released from materials contaminated by fungi.Particles from three fungal species (Aspergillus versicolor, Cladosporium cladosporioides and Penicillium brevicompactum), grown on agar, wood and gypsum board were aerosolized using the Fungal Spore Source Strength Tester (FSSST) at three air velocities (5, 16 and 27m/s). Released spores (optical size, dp≥0.8μm) and fragments (dp≤0.8μm) were counted using direct-reading optical aerosol instruments. Particles were also collected on filters, and their morphology and elemental composition analyzed using scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) coupled with an Energy-Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX).Among the studied factors, air velocity resulted in the most consistent trends in the release of fungal particles. Total concentrations of both fragments and spores increased with an increase in air velocity for all species whereas fragment-spore (F/S) ratios decreased. EDX analysis showed common elements, such as C, O, Mg and Ca, for blank material samples and fungal growth. However, N and P were exclusive to the fungal growth, and therefore were used to differentiate biological fragments from non-biological ones. Our results indicated that majority of fragments contained N and P.Because we observed increased release of fragments with increased air velocities, nucleation of MVOCs was likely not a relevant process in the formation of fungal fragments. Based on elemental composition, most fragments originated from fungi, but also fragments from growth material were detected.


  • Air velocity, Elemental analysis, Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, Fragments, Scanning electron microscope

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland