Identification and Impact of Airborne Fungi over the Sydney Basin

Topics: Fungus, Sydney, Biology Pages: 5 (1149 words) Published: April 3, 2013
Identification and Impact of Airborne Fungi over the Sydney Basin


The need to identify and monitor airborne fungi is vital to the health of humans. Fungal spores may trigger allergic responses in sensitised people, causing respiratory diseases such as hayfever and asthma (Knox, Ladiges, Evans and Saints 2006).

A variety of techniques can be used to identify the diversity and density of fungi within the Sydney Basin. The use of agar plate exposure allows microbial colonies to culture within a sterile environment. These colonies can be identified using dichotomous keys (School of Biological Sciences 2010) under compound and dissecting microscopes. This type of analysis is appropriate for our desired aim and provides a relatively accurate description of the fungi that may be found over regions of the Sydney Basin.

The purpose of this experiment is to identify what types of fungi are found over the Sydney Basin area. Findings will be compared with previous research to determine whether any of these fungi cause adverse effects within humans. These findings will allow health authorities to better understand and manage these effects.


Initially, benches were wiped down with alcohol to sterilize surfaces. Molten V8 agar was slightly flamed in Bunsen burner before being poured out into an opened dish, covering the bottom entirely. Bottle mouth was again flamed before resealing. Dish was revolved around to maintain an even spread of agar. Once set, dish was labelled with name, time, date and location of exposure. Once at location, dish was exposed to area for ten minutes before resealing and incubating for 10-14 days to allow fungal growth. In later lab session, dish was viewed under dissecting microscope. Individual colonies were removed and identified under compound microscope using a dichotomous key (School of Biological Sciences 2010). Statistics were entered into spreadsheet for analysis.


With reference to my own results, a small colony of Cladosporium could be clearly identified. No other colonies could be identified. Class results demonstrated clear fungal regions.

Figure 1. Fungi and regions in which they are located

|Fungi |Regions found | |Rhizopus |Everywhere but Blue Mountains, Wollongong | |Mucor |Everywhere. High Wollongong | |Phoma |Everywhere. High Wollongong | |Penicillium |Everywhere | |Aspergillius |Everywhere. High Central Coast | |Cladosporium |Everywhere but Central Coast and Wollongong | |Monilia |Everywhere but Wollongong | |Aureobasidium |Everywhere but Wollongong | |Trichoderma |Everywhere but Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong | |Botrytis |Everywhere but Central Coast and Wollongong | |Epicoccum |Everywhere but Wollongong. | |Alternaria |Everywhere but Wollongong and...

References: Bass, D. and Morgan, G. (1997) A three year (1993-1995) calendar of pollen and Alternaria mould in the atmosphere of south western Sydney. Grana 36: 293-300
Bush R.K., Portnoy J.M., Saxon A., Terr A.I., Wood R.A. (2006) The medical effects of mold exposure. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 117: 326 – 333.
Levetin, E. (1995) Fungi (In) Bioaerosols (Ed. H. A. Burge) pp 87-114 (Lewis Publishers: Boca Raton
Knox B.K, Ladiges P.L, Evans B.E and Saint R.B (2006) Biology: An Australian Focus (McGraw Hill: North Ryde)
O ' Hallaren, M.T., Yunginger, J.W., Offord, K.P., Somers, M.J., O’Connell, E.J., Ballard, D.J. and Sachs, M.I. (1991) Exposure to an aeroallergen as a possible precipitating factor in respiratory arrest in young patients with asthma. New England Journal of Medicine 324: 359-363
Oregon State University Fungi Can Change Quickly, Pass Along Infectious Ability March 2010 08-04-10
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