Penicillium chrysogenum

Penicillium chrysogenum

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Penicillium chrysogenum

Figure: Penicillium chrysogenum. Image Source: Pinterest, created using

  • Penicillium chrysogenum is also known as Penicillium notatum, the first Penicillium fungi used for the isolation of penicillin antibiotics, which is used for the treatment of Gram-positive bacteria.
  • It is also used in the production of other β-lactam antibiotics.
  • It is an allergen and has pathogenic activity however it is uncommon in causing disease in humans.
  • Incidences of opportunistic infections by P.chrysogenum have however been reported, causing infections in immune-compromised persons with underlying conditions.
  • The name penicillium originates from Latin to mean painters brush because of the structure of the conidial spores which are fluffy in appearance.

Habitat of Penicillium chrysogenum

  • It is found indoors, in areas that are humid, dump, or having dumped water.
  • It is also very common in temperate and subtropical areas.
  • It is found in moist soil and degraded forest vegetation.
  • It is saprophytic hence it can also grow in the dead decayed matter.
  • It also grows in stored food and damp building material, hence it is commonly an indoor fungus.
  • It can also be found on alfalfa leafcutter bees and subglacial ice feeding on sediment-rich basal ice shelves.
  • It can also be found on fruit causing decay.

Morphology of Penicillium chrysogenum

  • Penicillium chrysogenum reproduces by forming dry chains of spores known as conidia, from a thread-like, brush shaped structure known as conidiophore.
  • Microscopically, P. chrysogenum shows typical filamentous hyphae with conidia, which are the asexual spores of the fungi.
  • The hyphae are colorless, slender, tubular, branched, and septate hyphae.
  • The hyphae are formed from several threads of mycelium which can get intertwined into a hyphal network.
  • Fron the hyphal network, the conidiophores originate as long thick tubes with a swelling at the top, known as vesicles.
  • The vesicles produce the primary sterigmata from where the secondary sterigmata originate.
  • The secondary sterigmata form the conidial spores.
  • The conidia are long, cottony, or fluffy in texture.

Cultural characteristics of Penicillium chrysogenum

  • Penicillium chrysogenum colonies appear blue-green in color with a yellowish pigment.
  • Alexander Fleming described it as white fluffy mass” that later turns green then black. A yellow color appears after several days that will diffuse throughout the medium.

Life Cycle of Penicillium chrysogenum

  • Penicillium chrysogenum reproduces asexually by producing asexual spores known as conidia.
  • The conidial spores are released by wind or water or animals.
  • They then land on a platform with the right growth and nutrient conditions, they start to germinate.
  • During germination, they form mycelial threads known as hyphae.
  • From the hyphae, conidiophore tubes are formed with a bulged vesicle at the top end.
  • From the vesicles, primary sterigmata originate also known as phialides.
  • The phialides form the conidial spores.

Pathogenesis of Penicilliun chrysogenum

  • Penicillium chrysogenum causes disease on rare occasions and of which, if it causes an infection it is opportunistic in people with severely suppressed immune systems such as HIV/AIDS patients.
  • It has a very low pathogenicity effect and therefore, identifying and detecting it in infection is very low. Symptoms of its infections include:
    • Pulmonary infection i.e pneumonia, localized granulomas, fungus balls, and systemic infection.
    • Systemic endophthalmitis, an inflammation of the ocular cavity.
    • Inducing allergen and asthma, by activating histamine to the epithelial lining of the lungs which causes asthmatic symptoms.

Treatment on Penicillium chrysogenum infection

  • Treatment is by surgical removal of the foci of the infection
  • Use of oral antifungals such as amphotericin B and itraconazole.
  • For systemic endophthalmitis, use of topical amphotericin B or itraconazole

Industrial Applications of Penicillium chrysogenum

  • Scientists have exploited the competence of Penicillium chrysogenum in antibiotic production. The fungus produces a hydrophobic β-lactam compound known as penicillin.
  • Penicillin, an antibiotic has been used in the treatment of gram-positive bacterial infections such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, wounds, staphylococcal infections, bacterial fevers.
  • Penicillin structural variations classify it into two types, Penicillin G and penicillin V.
  • Penicillin has also been used in the treatment of crop diseases in apples, trees, grapes, and tomatoes, inducing protective mechanism against infections

Prevention and Control

  • Using water to spray off areas where the fungus is growing, to reduce spore spread into the air.
  • Use bleaches and warm water to clean the walls.

References and Sources


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