identification of nasty fungi

mspear mspear at telerama.lm.com
Fri Feb 2 22:20:46 EST 1996


John  Murphy", Jack (jmurphy at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG) wrote:
> As a graduate student in a mycology lab, I occasionally encountered
> individuals who assumed we were the source of all atmospheric problems in
> the building, real or imagined.  A real quick way to test what's in your
> atmosphere is to leave some agar plates open for  a time series, incubate
> them, and see what you get.  I tested our lab, the microbiology lab, and
> outdoors, and was astonished at how few spores were indoors and how many
> were outdoors.  For instance, 60 mm plates left open for 10 minutes
> frequently showed only a single colony after incubation, often fewer.

> I mention this only because it's a really simple test and can quickly quench
> (or fan to flame!) the nightmarish fungal fantasies that a fungophobe might
> invent.

> Dr. John (Jack) Murphy  (JMURPHY at fmppr.fmnh.org)
> Dept. of Botany
> Field Museum of Natural History
> Chicago, IL 60605-2496
> (312) 922-9410 ext. 722
> fax (312) 427-2530

Our experience is that open culture plates are not a good way to see
what's in the air at all.  The settling rate of spores can be measured
in inches per day. Also the most numerous spores can mask the presence
of others much more troublesome.

We've done a lot of spore sampleing to look for airborne mushroom farm
pathogens and learned that:

   1) You really need a good powered sampler to get consistent
results.

   2) You need to exercise a lot of care and statistical analysis to
get repeatability.

If your purpose is to de-fuse mycophobes who don't know any better
then open plates may be fine, but don't let those results cloud your
own thinking.  You can get similar results with a random number
generator.

    ---- Mark



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