Aspergillus niger

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Aspergillus niger
Aspergillus niger Micrograph.jpg
Micrograph of A. niger grown on Sabouraud agar
Aspergillus niger SEM.jpg
Details of the head
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Eurotiomycetes
Order: Eurotiales
Family: Trichocomaceae
Genus: Aspergillus
Species: A. niger
Binomial name
Aspergillus niger

Aspergillus niger var. niger
Aspergillopsis nigra (Tiegh.) Speg.
Rhopalocystis nigra (Tiegh.) Grove
Sterigmatocystis nigra (Tiegh.) Sacc. (1877)

Aspergillus niger is a fungus and one of the most common species of the genus Aspergillus.

It causes a disease called "black mold" on certain fruits and vegetables such as grapes, apricots, onions, and peanuts, and is a common contaminant of food. It is ubiquitous in soil and is commonly reported from indoor environments, where its black colonies can be confused with those of Stachybotrys (species of which have also been called "black mold").[1]

Some strains of A. niger have been reported to produce potent mycotoxins called ochratoxins;[2] other sources disagree, claiming this report is based upon misidentification of the fungal species.[citation needed] Recent evidence suggests some true A. niger strains do produce ochratoxin A.[1][3] It also produces the isoflavone orobol.


Aspergillus niger is included in Aspergillus subgenus Circumdati, section Nigri. The section Nigri includes 15 related black-spored species that may be confused with A. niger, including A. tubingensis, A. foetidus, A. carbonarius, and A. awamori.[4][5] A number of morphologically similar species were in 2004 described by Samson et al.[5]

In 2007 the strain of ATCC 16404 Aspergillus niger was reclassified as Aspergillus brasiliensis (refer to publication by Varga et al.[6]). This has required an update to the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and the European Pharmacopoeia which commonly use this strain throughout the pharmaceutical industry.


Plant disease[edit]

A. niger growing on onion

Aspergillus niger causes black mold of onions and ornamental plants. Infection of onion seedlings by A. niger can become systemic, manifesting only when conditions are conducive. A. niger causes a common postharvest disease of onions, in which the black conidia can be observed between the scales of the bulb. The fungus also causes disease in peanuts and in grapes.

Human and animal disease[edit]

Aspergillus niger is less likely to cause human disease than some other Aspergillus species. In extremely rare instances, humans may become ill, but this is due to a serious lung disease, aspergillosis, that can occur. Aspergillosis is, in particular, frequent among horticultural workers who inhale peat dust, which can be rich in Aspergillus spores. It has been found in the mummies of ancient Egyptian tombs and can be inhaled when they are disturbed.[7]

Aspergillus niger is one of the most common causes of otomycosis (fungal ear infections), which can cause pain, temporary hearing loss, and, in severe cases, damage to the ear canal and tympanic membrane.

A. niger growing on PDA


A. niger has been cultivated both on Czapek medium plates and malt extract agar oxoid (MEAOX) plates.[citation needed]

Industrial uses[edit]

Aspergillus niger is cultured for the industrial production of many substances. Various strains of A. niger are used in the industrial preparation of citric acid (E330) and gluconic acid (E574), and have been assessed as acceptable for daily intake by the World Health Organization. A. niger fermentation is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.[8]

Many useful enzymes are produced using industrial fermentation of A. niger. For example, A. niger glucoamylase is used in the production of high-fructose corn syrup, and pectinases are used in cider and wine clarification. Alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme that breaks down certain complex sugars, is a component of Beano and other products that decrease flatulence. Another use for A. niger within the biotechnology industry is in the production of magnetic isotope-containing variants of biological macromolecules for NMR analysis.

Aspergillus niger growing from gold-mining solution contained cyano-metal complexes, such as gold, silver, copper, iron, and zinc. The fungus also plays a role in the solubilization of heavy-metal sulfides.[9] Alkali-treated A. niger binds to silver to 10% of dry weight. Silver biosorbtion occurs by stoichiometric exchange with Ca(II) and Mg(II) of the sorbent.

Other uses[edit]

Aspergillus niger is also cultured for the extraction of the enzyme, glucose oxidase, used in the design of glucose biosensors, due to its high affinity for β-D-glucose.[10][11]



Genomic information
NCBI genome ID429
Genome size34 Mb
Number of chromosomes8

The A. niger ATCC 1015 genome was sequenced by the Joint Genome Institute in a collaboration with other institutions.[12]

The genomes of two A. niger strains have been fully sequenced.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Samson RA, Houbraken J, Summerbell RC, Flannigan B, Miller JD (2001). "Common and important species of fungi and actinomycetes in indoor environments". Microogranisms in Home and Indoor Work Environments. CRC. pp. 287–292. ISBN 978-0415268004.
  2. ^ Abarca M, Bragulat M, Castellá G, Cabañes F (1994). "Ochratoxin A production by strains of Aspergillus niger var. niger". Appl Environ Microbiol. 60 (7): 2650–2. PMC 201698. PMID 8074536.
  3. ^ Schuster E, Dunn-Coleman N, Frisvad JC, Van Dijck PW (2002). "On the safety of Aspergillus niger—a review". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 59 (4–5): 426–35. doi:10.1007/s00253-002-1032-6. PMID 12172605.
  4. ^ Klich MA (2002). Identification of common Aspergillus species. Utrecht, The Netherlands, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures. ISBN 978-90-70351-46-5.
  5. ^ a b Samson, RA, Houbraken JA, Kuijpers AF, Frank JM, Frisvad JC (2004). "New ochratoxin A or sclerotium producing species in Aspergillus section Nigri" (PDF). Studies in Mycology. 50: 45–6.
  6. ^ Varga, J.; Kocsube, S.; Toth, B.; Frisvad, J. C.; Perrone, G.; Susca, A.; Meijer, M.; Samson, R. A. (2007). "Aspergillus brasiliensis sp. nov., a biseriate black Aspergillus species with world-wide distribution". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 57 (8): 1925–32. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.65021-0. PMID 17684283.
  7. ^ Handwerk, Brian (May 6, 2005) Egypt's "King Tut Curse" Caused by Tomb Toxins?. National Geographic.
  8. ^ "Inventory of GRAS Notices: Summary of all GRAS Notices". US FDA/CFSAN. 2008-10-22. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  9. ^ Singh, Harbhajan (2006). Mycoremediation: Fungal Bioremediation. John Wiley & Sons. p. 509. ISBN 978-0470050583.
  10. ^ Staiano, M.; Bazzicalupo, P.; Rossi, M.; d'Auria, S. (2005). "Glucose biosensors as models for the development of advanced protein-based biosensors". Molecular BioSystems. 1 (5–6): 354–362. doi:10.1039/b513385h. PMID 16881003.
  11. ^ Ghoshdastider U, Wu R, Trzaskowski B, Mlynarczyk K, Miszta P, Gurusaran M, Viswanathan S, Renugopalakrishnan V, Filipek S (2015). "Nano-Encapsulation of Glucose Oxidase Dimer by Graphene". RSC Advances. 5 (18): 13570–78. doi:10.1039/C4RA16852F.
  12. ^ "Home – Aspergillus niger ATCC 1015 v4.0".
  13. ^ Pel H, de Winde J, Archer D, et al. (2007). "Genome sequencing and analysis of the versatile cell factory Aspergillus niger CBS 513.88". Nat Biotechnol. 25 (2): 221–31. doi:10.1038/nbt1282. PMID 17259976.
  14. ^ Andersen MR, Salazar MP, Schaap PJ, et al. (2011). "Comparative genomics of citric-acid-producing Aspergillus niger ATCC 1015 versus enzyme-producing CBS 513.88". Genome Res. 21 (6): 885–97. doi:10.1101/gr.112169.110. PMC 3106321. PMID 21543515.

External links[edit]