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Prevalence of keratinophilic fungi in public park soils of Mumbai, India

DOI: 10.4081/mr.2012.e6

Keywords: India , keratinophilic fungi , public park , soil fungi , Mumbai

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The parks of Mumbai are frequently visited by local residents every morning and evening. However, there are no reports on the occurrence of keratinophilic fungi in these areas. The purpose of this research was to study the occurrence of keratinophilic fungi in the public parks of Mumbai. One hundred soil samples were collected from five public parks: Kamla Nehru Park, Powai Garden, CD Deshmukh Garden, Five Gardens and Chota Kashmir. Keratinophilic fungi were isolated by the hair baiting technique using human hair as keratin bait. The cultures were identified using macroand micro-morphological features. Identification was also confirmed by the BLAST search of sequences of the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 rDNA region against the NCBI/Genbank data and compared with deposited sequences. The ability of these fungi to use human hair was also evaluated by release of protein in liquid media. A total of 75 strains of keratinophilic fungi were recovered from 100 (75.0%) soil samples. The isolated fungi were composed of eleven species of eight genera: Arthrographis kalrae, Auxarthron conjugatum, Chrysosporium indicum, C. queenslandicum, C. zonatum, Gymnascella dankaliensis, G. hyalinospora, Microsporum gypseum (15.0%), Myriodontium keratinophilum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Uncinocarpus reesii. These fungi can release 148.8-307.6 μg/mL protein in liquid media when grown on human hair in shake flask culture and also decompose 16.2-38.6% of human hair after four weeks of incubation. Our study indicates that keratinophilic fungi are to be found in the soils of various public parks in Mumbai and that human hair can be a source of pathogenic fungi.


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