Acremonium is a fungal genus with a number of species which are often found living in structures, frequently in insulation. These fungi are also widely distributed in the soil and in plant debris, and they can be found all over the world, in a variety of environments. There are several species of note within this genus, ranging from fungi which can cause serious infections to fungi used in the production of pharmaceuticals.
These fungi reproduce asexually, producing spores which allow the fungus to spread. Colonies can mature in less than a week in a warm, moist environment, making Acremonium a very fast growing fungus. The colony typically has a slightly powdery texture, and a color which can vary from gray to pink. Several species produce mycotoxins, substances which can cause ill health in humans and other animals.
Acremonium is a ubiquitous fungus which often causes contamination of lab samples and food. The fungus can thrive on an assortment of substrates, which makes it difficult to control. It can also sometimes be challenging to identify, and often the differences between individual species are subtle and very hard to pin down, a very common problem with molds.
For humans, A. falciforme, A. kiliense and A. recifei are of most concern. These species have all been linked with infections in humans. Pulmonary infections seem to be especially common, but these fungi have been isolated from infections in other regions of the body as well, classically in immunocompromised individuals who lack the ability to fight the fungus off. Several antifungal medications can be used to treat an Acremonium infection, although these medications are not always successful in eradicating the fungus.
One species, A. strictum, is a common culprit behind mycetoma, a subcutaneous infection which can be caused by bacteria or fungi. This infection typically appears in the foot, and is most common among agricultural laborers and people who spend a lot of time barefoot. Medications can sometimes be used to manage the infection, but in other cases more extreme measures, including amputation, have been needed to prevent the spread of the fungal infection.
A. chrysogenum is used in the production of the cephalosporin class of antibiotics. In fact, this fungal genus was once known as Cephalosporium, reflecting this fact. These antibiotics can be extremely useful in the treatment of a range of conditions, making this particular species a very valuable member of the Acremonium genus.