Indoor Air Quality Fungal Glossary

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Fungal Glossary

A
Absolute levels - The total spore concentration at any given location. (See Relative levels).

Actinomyces - A group of filamentous gram-positive bacteria. Airborne mold - Mold spores. (See Spores).

Air Sample (culturable) - A culturable air sample identifies the types of organisms present in the air that are alive, capable of growing on the agar used, and capable of competing with the other types of fungi present.

Most culturable air samples are collected by impacting a known volume of air onto the surface of a nutrient media.

The nutrient media is incubated for a period of time during which the organisms mature and then can be identified and enumerated by the laboratory. Examples of culturable air samples include the BioCassette™ and the Andersen.

Air Sample (Non-Culturable) - A known volume of air is impacted onto the surface of an adhesive which captures the particulate matter present including but not limited to fungal spores, pollen and skin cells.

The particulate matter collected can then be identified and enumerated by the laboratory. Examples of non-culturable air samples include the Zefon Air-O-Cell™ and the Allergenco™.

Algae - Unicellular or multicellular organisms having chlorophyll but lacking multicellular sex organs typical of plants.

Anamorph - The asexual part of a fungi's life cycle. The spores produced are asexual (mitosporic). In many fungi this is the only type of reproduction that occurs.

Ascomycete - A large group of fungi, which produce their meiospores (ascospores) within structures called asci. (See Meiospores)

Ascospores - The meiospore produced in the ascus of an ascomycete.

B
Bacteria - A group of unicellular prokaryotic organisms, some of which are important as pathogens and for their biochemical properties.

Basidiomycete - A large group of fungi, which produce their meiospores (basidiospores) on the surface of a structure called a basidia.

Basidiospores - The meiospore of a basidiomycete.

Biocide - A substance which kills living organisms.

Biodegradable - A material capable of being broken down by microorganisms.

Biodeteriogen - An organism capable a causing an undesirable change by its physical or metabolic activity.

Bulk sample - A physical piece of a material suspected of being contaminated with mold that can be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

C
Cellulolytic fungi - Fungi capable of utilizing (breaking down) cellulose-containing material. Examples include Chaetomium species and Stachybotrys species.

Cellulose - The principal polysaccharide of plant cell walls.

Coelomycete - Conidial anamorphs produced within a protective structure such as a pycnidia.

Conidia - An asexual spore formed by many different types of fungi.

Conidiophore - Specialized hyphae on which conidia are formed.

Culturable air sample - A sample taken for the purpose of determining what organisms are alive, capable of growing on specific nutrient media, and competing with the other organisms that may be prsent.

Culturable spore - a spore that is alive, capable of growing on the agar provided, and capable of competing with the other fungi that are present.

D
Dry rot - A type of brown rot decay caused by the basidiomycete Serpula lacrimans.

E

F
Fruiting body - A general term for the spore bearing structures in fungi.

Fungus (Fungi pl.) - Eukaryotes that produce exoenzymes and absorb their food: usually producing, and living inside, a network of apically extending, branched tubes, called hyphae.

G
Genus - Taxonomic rank below family. Examples of genus level names are Cladosporium, Alternaria and Pithomyces. These names are always capitalized.

H
Hypha (Hyphae pl.) - One of the individual filaments of a mycelium

Hyphomycetes - Conidial anamorphs producing exposed conidiophores.

I
Indoor air sample - A sample taken from an indoor source. Usually compared with an outdoor sample to determine if there are elevated concentrations of spores present indoors.

J

K

L
Lichen - A duel organism composed of a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria.

M
Macrofungi - Fungi having large spore-bearing structures.

Meiospores - Spores resulting from sexual reproduction (meiosis).

Mycelium - A mass of hyphae.

Myxomycetes - The Slime molds. Although not fungi, produce spores, which are morphologically similar to several groups of the true fungi.

N
Non-Culturable sample - A sample taken for the purpose of determining what organisms are present. A non-culturable sample cannot differentiate between culturable and non-culturable organisms.

Non-biological particles - Particles such as geologic debris, synthetic fibers, gypsum dust, etc.

O
Outdoor air sample - A sample taken from an outdoor source. Usually compared with an indoor samples to determine if there are elevated concentrations of spores indoors.

P
Pathogen - A parasite capable of causing disease in a particular host or range of hosts.

Pycnidia - An often flask shaped conidiomata of fungal tissue which is lined on the inside with conidiophores.

Q

R
Relative levels - The spore concentration of one location relative to that of another. An example would be comparing the indoor concentration of spores relative to the outdoor concentrations.

S
Saprobe - A heterotrophic organism that derives food from dead organisms, or from organic substances liberated by living ones.

Scientific name - An organism's scientific name usually consists of a genus designation and a species designation, together this is called a binomial. Examples of binomials are Ulocladium atra, Alternaria alternata and Homo sapien.

Species - The lowest-ranking common taxonomic rank. These names are not capitalized.

Spore chains - Chains of fungal spores, all linked together, usually in preparation for dissemination into the environment. Examples of genera that produce spores in chains include Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium.

Spore (fungal) - A microscopic propagule acting as an agent of dispersal capable of giving rise to a new colony.

Surface sample - A sample taken from the surface of a material suspected of being contaminated. These types of samples include swabs samples and tape samples.

Swab sample - A sample collected by applying a swab to an area suspected of being contaminated with mold. The sample thus collected can be processed and analyzed by the laboratory to detect the mold present.

T
Tape sample - A sample collected by applying and peeling away a transparent piece of tape on a surface area suspected to be contaminated with mold. During this process, the mold present on the surface sampled adheres to the surface of the tape. The sample thus collected can be processed and analyzed by the laboratory.

Thermophiles - Fungi that thrive at high temperatures.

U

V
Viable sample - A sample taken for the purpose of determining what organisms are capable of growing on specific nutrient media.

Viable spore - A spore that is alive.

W
Wall cavity samples - Samples taken from inside a wall. This is usually accomplished by sampling at the mouth of an electrical outlet after removing its cover or from any other opening to the inside of a wall.

Water activity - Expressed as aw; refers to the available water or moisture in a substrate expressed as a decimal fraction of the amount present when the substrate is in equilibrium with a saturated atmosphere.

Wet spore dispersal - A spore dispersal strategy. Wet spores are often slimy and usually carried away in water or by animals.

Wind spore dispersal - A spore dispersal strategy. Dry spores are often designed to be carried away by wind currents.

X
Xerophiles (fungal) - Fungi that thrive at low water activities.

Z
Zygomycete - A large group of fungi which usually produces a structure called a zygosporangium as part of its sexual cycle.