Fusarium Filamentous Fungi

Fusarium species are important infectious filamentous fungi, second only to Aspergillus species. These fungi are ubiquitous in the environment and are found in the soil, plants, plant debris and other organic matter, air and in water systems. Fungi are known to produce more than 140 known metabolites toxic both to humans and animals. Fusarium species produce several mycotoxins which are the largest group of mycotoxins. They are synthesized mainly by F. graminearum and F. culmorum, with deoxynivalenol, nivalenol and T-2 toxin belonging to the most occurred Fusarium-produced trichothecenes mycotoxins. Due to the high toxicity of Fusarium mycotoxins and high occurrence of the fungi species producing them, these mycotoxins belong to the most animal and human health endangering ones.

Fusarium species are primarily known as plant pathogens. Fusarium oxysporum affects thousands of plant species. Tomato, tobacco, legumes, cucurbits, sweet potatoes and banana are a few of the most susceptible plants, but it will also infect other herbaceous plants. Fusarium oxysporum generally produces symptoms such as wilting, chlorosis, necrosis, premature leaf drop, browning of the vascular system, stunting, and damping-off.

Fusarium verticillioides
Source: CDC/Dr. Libero Ajello

Being primarily known as plant pathogen, Fusarium can also infect humans and animals, causing superficial, locally invasive, and disseminated disease. More than 50 Fusarium species have been identified, but only a few have been shown to infect humans.5 Infection is mainly through inhalation of airborne conidia or via breaks in the skin due to trauma or burns. Fusarium has been reported as a significant cause of disease (fusariosis) in humans, especially immunocompromised patients and is the second most frequent mold involved in fungal infections that can be fatal. Fusarium species produce toxins that can cause food poisoning through the consumption of toxin-contaminated food.2 In immunocompetent persons, Fusarium usually causes keratitis in contact lens wearers (with many patients requiring keratoplasty and some having to undergo removal of the whole eye), peritonitis, onychomycosis and subcutaneous mycoses. Those with acute onco-hematological diseases or after stem cell transplant, have high risk of invasive life-threatening diseases. In such patients, invasive fusariosis is relatively resistant to standard antifungal therapy limiting their treatment options. Successful treatment is highly dependent on the particular Fusarium species involved in the infection.



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Immunodeficiency is an important predisposing factor to fusariosis in both animals and humans. The clinical symptoms observed in fusariosis may include debilitation, weight loss, chronic diarrhea and anemia, suggested a decline in immune function as a predisposing factor for infection. Several cases of skin fusariosis have been reported in dogs and cats including granulomatous dermatitis of the food-pad.

References

  1. Fusarium napiforme systemic infection: case report with molecular characterization and antifungal susceptibility tests
  2. The challenge of managing fusariosis
  3. Early activation of wheat polyamine biosynthesis during Fusarium head blight implicates putrescine as an inducer of trichothecene mycotoxin production
  4. Fusarium Wilt. Pan Germany. Pestizid Aktions-Netzwerk. Web. 23 Nov. 2010.
  5. Granulomatous Pododermatitis in the Digits Caused by Fusarium proliferatum in a Cat
  6. Deoxynivalenol and its toxicity
  7. Characterization of Fusarium Keratitis Outbreak Isolates: Contribution of Biofilms to Antimicrobial Resistance and Pathogenesis

 

 

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