Genetic and virulence variation in an environmental population of the opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus

Microbiology. 2014 Apr;160(Pt 4):742-751. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.072520-0. Epub 2014 Jan 24.


Environmental populations of the opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus have been shown to be genotypically diverse and to contain a range of isolates with varying pathogenic potential. In this study, we combined two RAPD primers to investigate the genetic diversity of environmental isolates from Manchester collected monthly over 1 year alongside Dublin environmental isolates and clinical isolates from patients. RAPD analysis revealed a diverse genotype, but with three major clinical isolate clusters. When the pathogenicity of clinical and Dublin isolates was compared with a random selection of Manchester isolates in a Galleria mellonella larvae model, as a group, clinical isolates were significantly more pathogenic than environmental isolates. Moreover, when relative pathogenicity of individual isolates was compared, clinical isolates were the most pathogenic, Dublin isolates were the least pathogenic and Manchester isolates showed a range in pathogenicity. Overall, this suggests that the environmental population is genetically diverse, displaying a range in pathogenicity, and that the most pathogenic strains from the environment are selected during patient infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / genetics*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / isolation & purification
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / pathogenicity*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Lepidoptera / microbiology
  • Models, Animal
  • Molecular Typing
  • Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA Technique
  • Survival Analysis
  • United Kingdom
  • Virulence


  • DNA, Bacterial