Screening Mold Colonies by Using Two Toxicity Assays Revealed Indoor Strains of Aspergillus calidoustus Producing Ophiobolins G and K

Marja Johanna Salo, Tamás Marik, Ottó Bencsik, Raimo Mikkola, László Kredics, András Szekeres, Maria A. Andersson, Heidi Salonen, Jarek Kurnitski

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The occurrence and toxin production of the opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus calidoustus in Finnish buildings is not well documented in the literature. We tracked and identified four A. calidoustus colonies cultivated from indoor settled dusts and revealed the biological activities of crude biomass extracts. The toxic substances were identified as 6-epi-ophiobolin K, ophiobolin K, and ophiobolin G by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) based on chromatographic and mass spectrometry data (MS and MS/MS) on the crude extract of A. calidoustus strain MH34. A total of 29 fungal colonies collected from settled dust in an office room reported for indoor-air-related illnesses were screened for toxins that inhibited boar sperm motility in the BSMI (boar sperm motility inhibiting) assay and cell proliferation in the ICP (inhibition of cell proliferation) assays with PK-15 cells. Out of the 27 colonies tested as toxic, 12 colonies exhibiting conidiophores representative of the genera Chaetomium, Penicillium, and Paecilomyces were excluded from the study, while 13 colonies exhibited Aspergillus-like conidiophores. Biomass suspensions of these colonies were divided into two categories: Category 1 colonies (n = 4), toxic in the BSMI assay and the ICP assays, emitted blue fluorescence and grew at 37 °C; Category 2 colonies (n = 9), only toxic in the ICP assay, emitted orange fluorescence and exhibited limited or no growth at 37 °C. Colonies in Category 1 were pure-cultured, and the strains were named as MH4, MH21, MH34, MH36. Strain MH34 was identified as A. calidoustus by the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences. Ethanol-soluble dry substances extracted from the biomass of the pure cultures exhibited a toxicological profile in the BSMI assay, SMID (sperm membrane integrity damage) assay, and ICP assay similar to that exhibited by pure ophiobolin A. Overall, the viable conidia of A. calidoustus in indoor settled dusts deserve attention when potentially hazardous mold species are monitored.

Original languageEnglish
Article number683
Number of pages17
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Aspergillus calidoustus
  • fluorescence
  • indoor mold
  • ophiobolins


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