Aspergillus terreus


Aspergillus terreus Thom


A. terreus has a worldwide distribution but more frequently occurs in tropical and subtropical areas.

It is a telluric fungus contributing to the decomposition of organic matter because of its cellulolytic, lipolytic and amylolytic activities.

Aspergillus terreus belongs to the group A. flavipes.
With a worldwide distribution, it is the most commonly isolated species from cultivation soils but it also occurs in non-cultivated soils. It is very frequently found under tropical and subtropical climates as a contaminant in food storage sites.

This fungus has been isolated from various substrates and habitats such as:
•  wood (dry wood, wood exposed to sea water)
•  air-conditioners
•  leather
•  fresh human faeces
•  forages
•  decaying vegetable matter
•  synthetic materials (plasticizers)
•  bird nests
•  paper (paper and paper pulp)
•  atmospheric dust
•  food products (stored grains, cereals, potatoes, fruits and dried fruits, coconut oil, spices, refrigerated products…)
•  soil (cultivated or not)
•  textile (vegetable fibres)

It is a pathogenic species causing aspergillosis, otomycosis, onchomycosis, abscesses of the aortic root and various skin infections.

The ingestion of contaminated products causes death in rodents and abortion in bovines. It is responsible for mastitis of the cat and for aspergillosis of the parrot, rabbits and even bees.
Besides, studies have shown that A. terreus has an antiviral effect on herpes with an obvious activity during the reproduction of the virus. This activity is nonexistent when the viruses are out of the cells.

It is also given antibiotic and bactericidal activities.

A. terreus inhibits the growth of several bacteria such as Trichophyton mertagrophytes and Sporothrix schenckii.

Description and growth


On Malt-Agar growth medium (MA) (initial pH 5) – Moderately fast growing colonies (reaching 78 cm in 21 days), velvet-like, white at first and then becoming cinnamon to brown-orange. The reverse is cream to slightly orangey. Emission of a yellowish pigment in the medium. The conidiophores are 100 to 250 µm long, smooth-walled, hyalines with hemispherical vesicles. The conidia heads are biseriate, very long, cylinder-shaped and very compact. The phialides are 5-7 x 1.5-5 µm. The conidia are 1.5 to 2.5 µm in diameter, smooth-walled, globose to ellipsoidal and hyaline to slightly yellow in colour. Emission of a yellow pigment in the medium during the growth. The species slightly acidifies the medium (final pH 4).


recto - 26°C

verso - 26°C

recto - 37°C

verso - 37°C


On Czapek growth medium (initial pH 6) – the colonies are rounded, furrowed from centre to margin, the centre is cream-coloured and the periphery is white. Formation of yellow exudates upon ageing. The reverse is crackled and dark orange. The species basidifies the medium (final pH 8).


recto - 26°C

verso - 26°C

recto - 37°C

verso - 37°C

On CYA growth medium (initial pH 6) – faster growing colonies than on the other media. Velvet-like, very white with the formation of a ring of lemon-yellow (fluorescent yellow) exudates in the periphery upon ageing. The reverse is orangey-cream. The species basidifies the medium (final pH 7.5).


recto - 26°C

verso - 26°C

recto - 37°C

verso - 37°C

Development on different materials.

The sharpest growth occurs on parchment. On other materials, the growth is good except on cotton textile on which it is moderate. Except on cotton textile on which it is yellowish, on other materials, A. terreus is white at first and turns slightly beige when sporulating.

Photos: Aspergillus terreus on leather (grain), linen and newspaper.

Aspergillus terreus sur cuir (fleur)

Aspergillus terreus sur toile de lin

Aspergillus terreus sur papier journal


Aw. 0.78

A.terreus is xerophile.

Minimal, optimal and maximal growth temperatures respectively are of 11-13°C, 35-40°C and 45-48°C.

It can develop at quite a wide range of pHs (2 to 8), however, optimal growth occurs at pH 5-6.

In vitro, although it develops well on most media, it grows better with sugar (glucose, saccharose).

The DNA analysis shows that it has a 55-57 % GC content.


 A. terreus is cellulolytic and keratinophile.

Synthesized compounds:
•  carboxylic acid
•  citric acid
•  itaconic acid
•  itatartaric acid
•  oxalic acid
•  succinic acid
•  terreic acid (antibiotic)
•  citreoviridine (antibiotic)
•  citrinin (antibiotic)
•  clavacin (antibiotic)
•  erdine and neighbouring molecules (antibiotic)
•  flavipine (antibiotic)
•  geodine (antibiotic)
•  gliotoxin
•  lipases
•  mevinoline
•  patulin (antibiotic)
•  phosphatases
•  phytases
•  sideramine ferrichrysine (antibiotic)
•  terrecine (antibiotic)
•  terreine (antibiotic)
•  terretonine (antibiotic)
•  territrem A (antibiotic)
•  versicolorine
•  β-glucosidases

The anti-bacterial substances have a variable toxicity.
In liquid medium, it is able to secrete galactose and mannose. It has a good ability to decompose arabinoxylan.


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