Aspergillus is a fungi genus that belongs to the family Trichocomaceae. Aspergillus was first catalogued and named in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli. It is described as a group of conidial fungi, which means fungi with sexual state. The genus Aspergillus consists of a few hundreds of species. One third of these species are known to have a sexual state. Species of Aspergillus are highly aerobic and can found in almost all the oxygen-rich environments. They are capable of growing in environments with high osmotic concentrations (high sugar, salt, etc.). They are common contaminants of starchy foods (such as bread and potatoes), and can be found growing in or on many trees and other plants.
Many species of Aspergillus play important roles in pharmacy and industry. Some members of Aspergillus can cause infections in humans as well as other animals and have been studied for years. A range of diseases in human are found, such as infection to the external skin lesions, ear, and ulcers classed as mycetomas. Up to now, more than 60 species of Aspergillus have been identified as medically relevant pathogens. Some of Aspergillus species also play important roles in commercial microbial fermentations. A. niger, for example, is the major source of citric acid which accounts for 99% of global citric acid production or even more. It is also involved in the production of native or foreign enzymes, such as lysozyme, glucose oxidase, and lactase. Some species can also act as important sources of their natural products that can be used in the development of medications.
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