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Chaetomium Mold Species


The U.S. Government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] classifies Chaetomium species as an allergen and irritant and a cause of Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis and Dermatitis.


Chaetomium species are causative agents of cutaneous lesions and Onychomycosis.

(Information from @ 2005)



Taxonomic Classifications


Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Euascomycetes
Order: Sordariales

Family: Chaetomiaceae

Genus: Chaetomium



Chaetomium Mold Picture


Picture of Chaetomium colony morphology

(Image Courtesy of @ 2005)


A 6 - 7 days old colony culture of Chaetomium globosum grown on malt extract agar.




Chaetomium is a dematiaceous filamentous fungus isolated from soil, air, and from decomposing plant debris, especially woody or straw like materials and from herbivore dung.  Aside from being a contaminant, Chaetomium species are also encountered as causative agents of infections in humans. Additionally, some species are thermophilic and neurotropic in nature.





The genus Chaetomium contains a number of species. The most widespread ones are Chaetomium atrobrunneum, Chaetomium funicola, Chaetomium globosum, and Chaetomium strumarium.



Pathogenicity and Health Effects


Chaetomium species are among the fungi causing infections referred to as phaeohyphomycosis.  Cases of fatal deep mycoses in an immunocompromised patient due to Chaetomium atrobrunneum have been reported. Brain abscess, peritonitis, cutaneous lesions, and onychomycosis may also develop due to Chaetomium species.



Macroscopic Appearance


     Growth rate is rapid and colony texture is cottony; and

      Surface colony color is white initially but as colonies mature, color becomes gray to olive while tan to red or brown to black on the reverse.



Microscopic Appearance



      The hyphae are septate, hyaline to pale brown;

      Perithecia, asci and ascospores are present;

      Perithecia are brown to black in color, large, fragile, globose to flask shaped and surrounded by long, undulant, helical or erect, spine like filamentous setae (hair like appendages);

      Perithecia have small rounded openings called ostioles which contain asci and ascospores inside;

      Asci are clavate to cylindrical in shape and remain intact only for a short period of time after their formation (evanescent) and dissolve rapidly to release their ascospores which are usually four to eight in number;

      Ascospores are unicellular, brown in color, and usually lemon shaped.



Laboratory Precautions


Only general laboratory precautions are required, no special safety measures needed.





There is no standard method for in vitro susceptibility testing of Chaetomium species as yet and very few data are available.  When a small number of Chaetomium atrobrunneum, Chaetomium funicola, and Chaetomium globosum isolates were tested, it appears that MICs of amphotericin B, ketoconazole, itraconazole, and miconazole were acceptably low while those of fluconazole and flucytosine appeared very high.

The mycological information gathered and organized in this extensive research on different Pathogenic Molds was sourced out from the list of informative websites and reference book below:


 A Clinical Laboratory Handbook: Identifying Filamentous Fungi by St. Germain, Guy and R. Summerbell.

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