Stachybotrys chartarum

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Stachybotrys chartarum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Sordariomycetes
Order: Hypocreales
Family: Stachybotryaceae
Genus: Stachybotrys
S. chartarum
Binomial name
Stachybotrys chartarum
(Ehrenb.) S.Hughes (1958)
  • Stilbospora chartarum Ehrenb. (1818)
  • Oospora chartarum (Ehrenb.) Wallr. (1833)
  • Stachybotrys atrus Corda (1837)
  • Sporocybe lobulata Berk. (1841)
  • Stachybotrys lobulatus (Berk.) Berk. (1860)
  • Stachybotrys scaber Cooke & Harkn. (1884)
  • Stachybotrys atrogriseus Ellis & Everh. (1888)
  • Stachybotrys atrus f. lobulatus Verona (1939)
  • Stachybotrys atrus var. brevicaulis Verona (1939)
  • Stachybotrys lobulatus var. angustisporus M.Moreau & Moreau (1941)
  • Stachybotrys lobulatus var. macrus Pidopl. (1953)

Stachybotrys chartarum (/stækˈbɒtrɪs ɑːrˈtɛərəm/, stak-ee-BO-tris char-TARE-əm[2]), also known as black mold or toxic black mold,[3] is a species of microfungus that produces its conidia in slime heads.


The fungus was originally described scientifically in 1818 by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg as a member of the genus Stilbospora. His diagnosis emphasized the form of the spores, which he described as minute, sub-opaque, ovate, and agglomerated into subconcentric, water-soluble irregular clusters. He noted that the fungus adheres to paper, sometimes forming circles dotted with black.[4] Stanley Hughes transferred the taxon to Stachybotrys in 1958.[5] This genus was circumscribed in 1832 by Czech mycologist August Carl Joseph Corda, with Stachybotrys atra assigned as its type species.[6] The species concept of Stachybotrys chartarum has been controversial, as several studies showed that there were several closely related species and cryptic species all under this name.[7]

There are two chemotypes in S. chartarum, one that produces trichothecene mycotoxins such as satratoxin H and one that produces atranones.[8]


S. chartarum is a slow-growing mold that does not compete well with other molds. It is only rarely found in nature, sometimes being found in soil and grain, but is most often detected in cellulose-rich building materials, such as gypsum-based drywall and wallpaper from damp or water-damaged buildings.[9][10] It occasionally encounters human habitats with large amounts of cellulose, large temperature fluctuations, low nitrogen, no other molds, no sunlight, and ample constant humidity.[10] The spores are released into the air when the mold is mechanically disturbed, particularly when wet. It is considered an uncommon contaminant of most indoor air.[11]

Not all strains of S. chartarum produce mycotoxins, and under certain conditions some of these may gradually lose the ability to produce such toxins.[verification needed] The presence of high indoor humidity does not imply that mycotoxin-producing S. chartarum is also present.[11][verification needed]


Claims of health problems related to this mold have been documented in humans and animals since the 1930s.[12] More recently, S. chartarum has been linked with so-called sick building syndrome. However, the link has not been firmly established in the scientific literature.[13]

In 1994 the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) verified that a number of infants in Cleveland, Ohio became sick, and some died from pulmonary hemosiderosis (bleeding in the lungs) following exposure to unusually high levels of S. chartarum spores.[10] Subsequent investigation by the CDC did not reveal a definitive link between mold exposure and infant mortality.[citation needed]

In one experiment, laboratory rats exposed to vapors from walls entirely covered in S. chartarum resulted in few notable biological effects (possibly because the walls were not disturbed during the experiment and the air contained few spores). In another experiment, mice showed no ill effects despite being exposed to much higher concentrations of mycotoxins from S. chartarum than a human could face in any living environment. According to one author, "These studies suggest that the concentrations of airborne spores of S. chartarum realistically obtainable in indoor air are too low to produce clinical effects."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "GSD Species Synonymy. Current Name: Stachybotrys chartarum (Ehrenb.) S. Hughes, Can. J. Bot. 36: 812 (1958)". Species Fungorum. Retrieved 19 November 2022.
  2. ^ Nicholas P. Money (2004). Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores: A Natural History of Toxic Mold. Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-19-803847-4.
  3. ^ Pestka, James J.; Yike, Iwona; Dearborn, Dorr G.; Ward, Marsha D. W.; Harkema, Jack R. (2007). "Stachybotrys chartarum, trichothecene mycotoxins, and damp building–related illness: new insights into a public health enigma". Toxicological Sciences. 104 (1): 4–26. doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfm284. PMID 18007011.
  4. ^ Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried (1818). Sylvae mycologicae Berolinenses (in Latin). Berlin. p. 21.
  5. ^ Hughes, S.J. (1958). "Revisiones hyphomycetum aliquot cum appendice de nominibus rejiciendis". Canadian Journal of Botany. 36 (6): 727–836 [812]. doi:10.1139/b58-067.
  6. ^ Corda, A.C.J. (1837). Icones fungorum hucusque cognitorum. Vol. 1. Prague. p. 21.
  7. ^ Li, D.-W.; Yang, C.S. (2005). "Taxonomic history and current status of Stachybotrys chartarum and related species". Indoor Air. 19 (Suppl. 9): 9–10. Bibcode:2005InAir..15S...5L. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0668.2005.00339.x. PMID 15910524.
  8. ^ Andersen B, Nielsen KF, Thrane U, Szaro, T, Taylor, JW & Jarvis, BB (2003). "Molecular and phenotypic descriptions of Stachybotrys chlorohalonata sp. nov. And two chemotypes of Stachybotrys chartarum found in water-damaged buildings" (PDF). Mycologia. 95 (6): 1227–38. doi:10.1080/15572536.2004.11833031. PMID 21149024. S2CID 203881222.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Samson RA, Houbraken J, Thrane U, Frisvad JC & Andersen B. (2010). Food and Indoor Fungi. CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Utrecht, the Netherlands. pp. 1–398.
  10. ^ a b c Richard F. Progovitz (2003). Black Mold Your Health and Your Home. The Forager Press, LLC. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-9743943-9-8.
  11. ^ a b c Donald G. Barceloux (2012). Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances: Foods, Fungi, Medicinal Herbs, Plants, and Venomous Animals. John Wiley & Sons. p. 885. ISBN 978-1-118-38276-9.
  12. ^ Etzel RA, Montaña E, Sorenson WG, Kullman GJ, Allan TM, Dearborn DG, Olson DR, Jarvis BB, Miller JD (August 1998). "Acute pulmonary hemorrhage in infants associated with exposure to Stachybotrys atra and other fungi". Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 152 (8): 757–762. doi:10.1001/archpedi.152.8.757. PMID 9701134.
  13. ^ Page, E. H.; Trout, D. B. (2001). "The Role of Stachybotrys Mycotoxins in Building-Related Illness". AIHA Journal. 62 (5): 644–648. doi:10.1080/15298660108984664. PMID 11669391.

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