Aspergillus parasiticus

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Aspergillus parasiticus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Ascomycota
Class: Eurotiomycetes
Order: Eurotiales
Family: Trichocomaceae
Genus: Aspergillus
Section: Flavi[1]
Species: A. parasiticus
Binomial name
Aspergillus parasiticus
Speare (1912)

Aspergillus parasiticus is a mold known to produce aflatoxins (a potent liver carcinogen),[2] although strains of it that do not produce this carcinogen exist. It is closely related to but separable to (based on DNA sequencing and amplified fragment length polymorphism fingerprinting) Aspergillus flavus.[1] A. parasiticus produces aflatoxins B1, B2, G1 and G2, unlike A. flavus which only produces B1.[1]


The mold was first described by pathologist A. T. Speare of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association in 1912; Speare observed the fungus sporulating on sugarcane mealy bugs (Pseudococcus sacchari) that had died while feeding on the cane leaf sheaths.[1] It is sometimes found on black olives, improperly stored food grains and peanuts.[2]

An outbreak of deadly disease on turkey farms in England in the 1960s initially lacked a known cause (hence the initial name of Turkey X disease), but was eventually tracked down to A. parasiticus, Aspergillus flavus and many other related species[3] which were being fed to turkeys in peanut meals. It was this outbreak which led to the discovery of aflatoxins and stimulated the field of mycotoxicology.[4] A similar outbreak later[5] occurred in Kenya, where ducklings were infected due to the presence of the mold in Ugandan peanut meal.[1] Aspergillus parasiticus was found to produce all four principle aflatoxins AFB1, B2, G1 and G2.


  1. ^ a b c d e W. Horn, Bruce; Jorge H. Ramirez-Prado; Ignazio Carbone (March 2009). "The sexual state of Aspergillus parasiticus". Mycologia. Mycological Society of America. 101 (2): 275–280. doi:10.3852/08-205. PMID 19397202. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "cancer (disease)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 7 September 2011. p. 17. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  3. ^ Volk, Tom (February 1997). "Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for February 1997". Tom Volk's Fungi. Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "poison (biochemistry)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 3 October 2008. p. 18. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Anamika B & Farid Waliyar (2000). "Effects of Aflatoxins on Human and Animal Health". ESTIMATION OF AFLATOXINS IN FOOD SAMPLES. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.