Pathogenic potential of an environmental Aspergillus fumigatus strain recovered from soil of Pygoscelis papua (Gentoo Penguins) colony in Antarctica

Aspergillus fumigatus is a common opportunistic pathogen in different animals, including birds such as penguins. For the first time, a fungal strain identified as A. fumigatus was isolated from soil in the nests of gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, on Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands (maritime Antarctica). This isolate (A. fumigatus UFMGCB 11829) displayed a series of potentially pathogenic characteristics in vitro. We evaluated its detailed molecular taxonomy and submitted the A. fumigatus UFMGCB 11829 Antarctic strain to in vivo pathogenic modelling. The isolate was confirmed to represent A. fumigatus morphological and phylogenetic analysis showed that it was closely related to A. fumigatus sequences reported from animals, immunosuppressed humans, storage grains, plants and soils. The strain displayed the best mycelial growth and conidia production at 37 ºC; however, it was also able to grow and produce conidia at 15º, demonstrating its capability to survive and colonize penguin nest at least in the summer season in maritime Antarctica. In pathogenicity tests, healthy mice did not showed symptoms of infection; however, 50% lethality was observed in immunosuppressed mice that were inoculated with 106 and 107 spores. Lethality increased to 100% when inoculated with 108 spores. Our data highlight the potential pathogenicity of opportunistic A. fumigatus that may be present in the Antarctic, and the risks of both their further transfer within Antarctica and outwards to other continents, risks which may be exacerbated due global climatic changes.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Gonçalves, Vívian Nicolau, Amorim, Soraya Sander, da Costa, Marliete Carvalho, de Assis Santos, Daniel, Convey, Peter ORCIDORCID record for Peter Convey, Rosa, Luiz Henrique

On this site: Peter Convey
23 April, 2024
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology
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