Growth of indoor fungi on gypsum

Frank J J Segers, Karel A van Laarhoven, Han Wosten, Jan Dijksterhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AIMS: To have a better understanding of fungal growth on gypsum building materials to prevent indoor fungal growth.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Gypsum is acquired by mining or as a by-product of flue-gas desulfurization or treatment of phosphate ore for the production of fertilizer. Natural gypsum, flue-gas gypsum, and phosphogypsum therefore have different mineral compositions. Here, growth of fungi on these types of gypsum was assessed. Conidia of the indoor fungi Aspergillus niger, Cladosporium halotolerans, and Penicillium rubens were inoculated and observed using microscopic techniques including low temperature scanning electron microscopy (Cryo-SEM). Elemental analysis of gypsum was done using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and segmented flow analysis (SFA). Moisture content of the gypsum was determined using a dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) apparatus. Aspergillus niger, Cladosporium halotolerans, and Penicillium rubens hardly germinated on natural gypsum and flue-gas gypsum. The latter two fungi did show germination, outgrowth, and conidiation on phosphogypsum, whilst A. niger hardly germinated on this substrate. Other experiments show that C. halotolerans and P. rubens can develop in pure water, but A. niger does not.

CONCLUSIONS: The observations show that the lack of germination of three indoor fungi is explained by the low amount of phosphor in natural, flue-gas, and laboratory grade gypsum. Additionally, C. halotolerans and P. rubens can develop in pure water, while conidia of A. niger do not show any germination, which is explained by the need for organic molecules of this species to induce germination.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Indoor fungal growth is a potential threat to human health and causes damage to building materials. This study possibly helps in the application of the right type of gypsum in buildings. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429–435
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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