Title Fungal Catastrophe of a Specimen Room: Just One Week is Enough to Eradicate Traces of Thousands of Animals
Author Ji Seon Kim, Yoonhee Cho, Chang Wan Seo, Ki Hyung Park, Shin Nam Yoo, Jun Won Lee, Sung Hyun Kim, Wonjun Lee, and Young Woon Lim*
Address School of Biological Sciences and Institute of Microbiology, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea
Bibliography Journal of Microbiology, 61(2),189-197, 2023,
DOI 10.1007/s12275-023-00017-9
Key Words Animal specimen · Aspergillus · Biodegradation · Fungi · Penicillium · Talaromyces
Abstract Indoor fungi obtain carbon sources from natural sources and even recalcitrant biodegradable materials, such as plastics and synthetic dye. Their vigorous activity may have negative consequences, such as structural damage to building materials or the destruction of precious cultural materials. The animal specimen room of the Seoul National University stocked 36,000 animal resources that had been well-maintained for over 80 years. Due to abandonment without the management of temperature and humidity during the rainy summer season, many stuffed animal specimens had been heavily colonized by fungi. To investigate the fungal species responsible for the destruction of the historical specimens, we isolated fungi from the stuffed animal specimens and identified them at the species level based on morphology and molecular analysis of the β-tubulin (BenA) gene. A total of 365 strains were isolated and identified as 26 species in Aspergillus (10 spp.), Penicillium (14 spp.), and Talaromyces (2 spp.). Penicillium brocae and Aspergillus sydowii were isolated from most sections of the animal specimens and have damaged the feathers and beaks of valuable specimens. Our findings indicate that within a week of mismanagement, it takes only a few fungal species to wipe out the decades of history of animal diversity. The important lesson here is to prevent this catastrophe from occurring again through a continued interest, not to put all previous efforts to waste.