Changes Through Time and Conditions



Soil habitat, Microsoft Clip Art


A.fumigatus has adapted due to its environment.  Since it thrives in high temperatures, plenty of oxygen, and low water availability, parasitism is possible in animals with warm body temperatures.  The development of spores that resist such warm conditions allows it to survive in the soil during droughts.  Then, after a disturbance, such as swirling wind in dry soil, the spores can be distributed----success. 



Duck lung infected with A. fumigatus, Courtesy of Dr. Volk

Also, adaptations have been made to promote aerobic habitats. This makes lungs and nasal sinuses a great place for the fungus to live and grow in.  Because of this factor, this species may have taken advantage of the high presence of respiratory medium in birds, as poultry populations often have high rates of aspergillosis infections. To the right is a duck lung infected with Aspergillus fumigatus. Other animals such as barn yard animals might also get infections because there is so much dust, and therefore Aspergillus, in their domestic habitat.  This includes hay, bedding, and the general farm and barn environments.


Another component to its success is how the morphology of the hyphae changes in different stages in the life cycle.  For example, hyphae shape and branching design can change depending on if whether it is in an animal's body or out of the body. This is seen when the fungus acts as an animal parasite. 


Perscription Drugs, Microsoft Clip Art


In the human body, doctors prevent growth and try to counteract these adaptations by treating patients with antifungal drugs which kill the fungus cells by destroying the fungal cell membranes (Latge 1999).  The effects of infection of Aspergillus fumigatus on humans can be seen in further detail on the disease page.



The fungus has also made some adaptations to protect itself against invasion of other organisms. It is found certain double stranded RNA mycoviruses can attack this species.  Nevertheless, research has proven certain cell processes have countered the attack by protecting its mitochondria from such an invasion (Varga, J., et al. 1998).  This just shows how different organisms interact with one another in various ways. 


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