Get ready folks! This is going to be a loooong post about the common types of mold. I created a little clickable table of contents if you prefer to skip to a certain type of mold. You can find that a few paragraphs down.
Don’t forget to check out the various ways to prevent mold as well as tips on how to remove mold. I offer loads of information on various mold testing options as well. Don’t forget! Leak prevention = mold prevention.
How Many Types Of Mold Are There?
No one really knows how many species of mold exist. Scientists know of over 100,000 types of mold but guess that there are possibly over 300,000 types of mold.
Molds are typically categorized by color or by one of three hazard classes based on associated health risks.
Hazard Class A – Toxic Molds
These are the molds that produce mycotoxins which in short are poisonous chemicals that are highly dangerous to humans and animals. Toxic molds intentionally harm other living things as a means of survival or when they feel threatened.
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Molds
These molds may affect people who have certain allergies or asthma. They possibly can cause an allergic reaction in individuals without allergies if exposed for a long period of time.
Hazard Class C – Pathogenic Molds
Typically, these molds only cause economic damage but they are capable of causing certain. These opportunistic pathogens most commonly attack people with a suppressed immune system. Infants and the elderly are at the greatest risk.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Indoor Molds?
While there are many, many species of indoor molds, scientists generally agree that there are 14 common types of indoor mold. These are:
Let’s take a moment to look in depth at these 14 molds as they are what you will likely encounter as you test for mold, remove mold, and prevent mold.
Acremonium is a fungal genus formerly known as Cephalosporium. It is a widespread mold currently believed to contain about 100 species.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Hypocreales (Order) > Hypocreaceae (Family)
What Does Acremonium Look Like?
It starts as a small, moist mold and turns into a powdery substance. Acremonium is either white, pink, orange, or grey in color.
Where Does Acremonium Grow?
In an indoor environment, Acremonium species are primarily isolated from acoustic and thermal fiberglass insulation used in heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, cooling coils, drain pans, windowsills, and water from humidifiers. Acremonium is also found on carpet and mattress dust, damp or wet walls (especially in basements), gypsum board and wallpaper.
What Hazard Class Is Acremonium In?
Hazard Class A – Toxic Molds. Acremonum can produce a trichothecene mycotoxin.
Can Acremonium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Acremonium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Alternaria is the most common form of allergenic mold in the world. It includes 50+ species
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Pezizomycotina (Subdivision) > Dothideomycetes (Class) > Pleosporomycetidae (Subclass) > Pleosporales (Order) > Pleosporaceae (Family)
What Does Alternaria Look Like?
It’s a velvet-textured mold with dark green or brown hairs.
Where Does Alternaria Grow?
Indoors, Alternaria cound be found in carpets, textiles, and on horizontal surfaces in building interiors. It is frequently found on window frames. You most typically find Alternaria in showers, bathtubs, and below sinks. It often signifies water damage, and it spreads quickly.
Outdoors Alternaria grows in/on soil, seeds, sewage, vegetation, plant debris, textiles, and food stuffs.
One of the species, Alternaria alternata, has been isolated from numerous kinds of organic materials in damp situations, including textiles, stored food, canvas, cardboard and paper, electric cables, polyurethane, jet fuel, sewage and effluents.
What Hazard Class Is Alternaria In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Molds. Alternaria does produce toxins including alternariol (used as an antifungal), alternariol monomethylether, tenuazonic acid, and altertoxins.
Can Alternaria Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Sometimes spores cannot be distinguished from Ulocladium species.
Can Alternaria Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Yes, quite easily.
A genus of fungi containing approximately 200+ recognized species.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Eurotiomycetes (Class) > Eurotiales (Order) > Trichocomaceae (Family)
What Does Aspergillus Look Like?
Aspergillus has long flask-shaped spores that can form thick layers or walls of the mold. This creates long chains of mold growth on surfaces. Because there so many species of aspergillus mold, it can appear in many different colors.
Where Does Aspergillus Grow?
Species of Aspergillus are capable of utilizing an enormous variety of organic material for food because of their ability to produce a large number of enzymes. Basically, indoors, Aspergillus can grow on just about anything given the right conditions. They like leather and cloth/fabric material a lot but are found on walls, wallpaper, PVC/paper wall covering, gypsum board, floor, carpet and mattress dust, upholstered-furniture dust, acrylic paint, UFFI, leather, HVAC insulations, filters and fans, humidifier water, shoes, leather, potted plant soil, plastic, and wood.
Outdoors Aspergillius grows on soil, plant debris, compost piles, feed products, and stored grain.
Some species of Aspergillius are parasitic in nature and feed on insects and animals including humans.
What Hazard Class Is Aspergillus In?
Hazard Class A – Toxic Molds AND Hazard Class B – Allergenic Molds. It depends on the species. Aspergillus species produce toxic compounds, the most well known being aflatoxins. Aflatoxin is a class 1 carcinogen. Specific Aspergillus species produce the following mycotoxins and biotoxin:
- Aspergillus flavus: aflatoxin B1 & B2, cyclopiazonic acid, and kojic acid.
- Aspergillus fumigatus: ergot alkaloids, fumigaclavines, gliotoxin, fumigatoxin, fumigillin, fumitremorgens, helvolic acid, tryptoquivaline tremorgens, and verruculogen.
- Aspergillus niger: malformin C and oxalic acid.
- Aspergillus ustus: austocystins.
- Aspergillus versicolor: aspercolorin, averufin, cyclopiazonic acid, sterigmatocystin, and versicolorin.
Can Aspergillus Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Yes – it one of the most commonly found molds via air sampling.
Can Aspergillus Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
A genus of fungi containing approximately 15+ recognized species.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Dothideomycetes (Class) > Dothideales (Order) > Dothioraceae (Family)
What Does Aureobasidium Look Like?
Aureobasidium usually grows in a pink, brown or black color. As it ages, Aureobasidium typically turns a darker brown color.
Where Does Aureobasidium Grow?
In indoor environments, it is very common to find Aureobasidium on wet wood and window frames, painted surfaces that are deteriorating, in floor, carpet, and mattress dust, damp walls, and in humidifier water.
Outdoors Aureobasidium is occasionally found on a wide range of stored foodstuffs and cereals (such as wheat, barley and oats). It is also found in garden soil, forest soils, fresh water, aerial portion of plants, fruit, marine estuary sediments, and wood.
Sometimes Aureobasidium occurs on meat in cold stores as it can grow at very low temperatures.
What Hazard Class Is Aureobasidium In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Molds. Currently it is not believed that Aureobasidium produces mycotoxins.
Can Aureobasidium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
It can be difficult to differentiate from other types of dematiaceous fungi due to the varying morphologies.
Can Aureobasidium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Typically found in water damaged buildings, there are about 80 species of Chaetomium.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Sordariomycetes (Class) > Sordariales (Order) > Chaetomiaceae (Family)
What Does Chaetomium Look Like?
Chaetomium has a cotton-like texture and usually changes colors from white to grey to brown and eventually to black over time. It has a strong smell associated with it.
Where Does Chaetomium Grow?
Indoors, Chaetomium is found on a variety of substrates containing cellulose. It can be found on paper, drywall, carpets, baseboards, roofs, and wallpapers.
Outdoors, Chaetomium is found on plant compost.
What Hazard Class Is Chaetomium In?
Hazard Class A – Toxic Molds. Chaetomium produces two mycotoxins called chaetoglobosins A and C. Some species can also produce sterigmatocystin and chetoglobosins.
Can Chaetomium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Chaetomium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
There are 40+ species of Cladosporium and it is one of the most common molds found worldwide. Cladosporium grows in both cold and hot conditions, so it’s one of the most resilient kinds of mold out there.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Dothideomycetes (Class) > Capnodiales (Order) > Davidiellaceae (Family)
What Does Cladosporium Look Like?
Cladosporium is an olive-green or brown colored mold with a suede-like texture.
Where Does Cladosporium Grow?
Indoors, Cladosporium is often found growing on textiles, wood, moist window sills, tile grout and often in bathrooms where the relative humidity is regularly above 50%. It also can be found growing on sheetrock, subfloor, carpets, fabrics, OSB and plywood among other surfaces.
Outdoors, Cladosporium is often found growing in soil, plant litter and decaying plants as well as on leaves.
The four most common Cladosporium species and where they grow are:
1. Cladosporium herbarum. An exceedingly common organism, found on dead herbaceous and woody plants, textiles, rubber, paper, and foodstuffs of all kinds. Indoors, it is found in floor, carpet and mattress dust, damp acrylic painted walls, wallpaper, HVAC insulation, filters and fans. Cladosporium herbarum is frequently the most prominent mold in air-spora. It grows over a wide range of temperatures and has frequently been reported causing spoilage of meat in cold storage.
2. Cladosporium sphaerospermum. This frequently encountered species has been isolated from air, soil, gypsum board, acrylic painted walls, painted wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, HVAC fans, wet insulation in mechanical cooling units, foodstuffs, paint and textiles.
3. Cladosporium cladosporioides. A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from meat, soil, air, textile3s and paint.
4. Cladosporium macrocarpum. A cosmopolitan species which has been isolated from dead plants, soil, indoor air, apple juice concentrates and seeds.
What Hazard Class Is Cladosporium In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Mold. Cladosporium species produce no major mycotoxins of concern, but do produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with odors.
Can Cladosporium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Cladosporium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Eurotium is the sexual state of several Aspergillus. The detection of Eurotium in the indoor environment indicates persistent high relative humidity, poor ventilation and condensation problems.
What Does Eurotium Look Like?
Eurotium has a moderately rapid growth rate with downy to powdery colonies. Colonies are yellow, or dull green to bluish green.
Where Does Eurotium Grow?
Indoors, Eurotium is found in HVAC units, on the floor, in carpet and mattress dust, in hospital air, on clothes and shoes, and on building materials such as drywall, gypsum board and insulation.
Outdoors Eurotium grows in soil.
What Hazard Class Is Eurotium In?
Hazard Class C- Pathogenic Mold. Eurotium species produce a variety of metabolites. These include: neochinulin A and B, ephiheveardride, flavoglaucin, auroglaucin, isotetrahydorauroglaucin, echinulin, preecninulin, neoechinulin E and questin. Little is known regarding the toxicology of these metabolites.
Can Eurotium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Yes but with a wide margin for error.
Can Eurotium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Fusarium has 70+ species and by nature will quickly spread from room to room.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Sordariomycetes (Class) > Hypocreales (Order) > Nectriaceae (Family)
What Does Fusarium Look Like?
The colony texture ranges from flat to wooly or cottony. The color of the colonies may be white, tan, salmon, cinnamon, yellow, red violet, pink, or purple.
Where Does Fusarium Grow?
Fusarium are commonly isolated from carpet and mattress dust, damp walls, wallpaper, polyester polyurethane foam, humidifier pans and areas where stagnant water occurs in HVAC systems.
Indoors, Fusarium is commonly found in soil, dead or living plants, and grains.
What Hazard Class Is Fusarium In?
Fusarium is both a Hazard Class A -Toxic Mold and Hazard Class B – Allergenic Mold depending on the species. Fusarium can produce trichothecenes (type B); T-2 toxin; zearalenone (F-2 toxin), vomitoxin, deoxynivalenol, and fumonisin.
Can Fusarium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
The macroconidia are distinctive and recognizable on spore trap slides. The microconidia are less distinctive and would most probably be identified as “other colorless.”
Can Fusarium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Macroconidia are distinctive and often are readily identifiable on tape lifts. However, microconidia of Fusarium may be confused with Acremonium.
There are about 50 species of Mucor worldwide and it requires very high levels of humidity to flourish.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Zygomycota (Division) > Mucormycotina (Class) > Mucorales (Order) > Mucoraceae (Family)
What Does Mucor Look Like?
Mucor usually grows in thick patches. It is often white or greyish in color. It can also be beige or brown.
Where Does Mucor Grow?
Mucor most often grows near air conditioning, HVAC systems and ducting due to moisture from condensation. Old, damp carpets can also grow Mucor spores.
Mucor is often found in soil, dead plant material, horse dung, fruits and fruit juice. It is also found in leather, meat, dairy products, animal hair and jute.
What Hazard Class Is Mucor In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Mold.
Can Mucor Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Mucor Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
There are 200+ species of Penicillium and it is one of the most commonly found molds. It is known for its distinctive heavy, musty odor and its rapid growth rate.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Eurotiomycetes (Class) > Eurotiales (Order) > Trichocomaceae (Family)
What Does Penicillium Look Like?
Penicillium colonies are usually green, blue-green, or grey green, but can be white, yellow or pinkish. Colonies are mostly velvety to powdery in texture.
Where Does Penicillium Grow?
Penicillium is often found growing indoors on water damaged building materials (chipboard/OSB, plywood, wallpaper, glue) as well as on food items (dried foods, cheeses, fruits, herbs, spices, cereals). It can also be found growing behind paint, on fabrics, on carpet, in fiberglass insulation, and on mattresses. Penicillium loves dust.
Often found growing outside in soil, decaying plant debris, compost piles and fruit rot.
What Hazard Class Is Penicillium In?
Hazard Class A – Toxic Mold. Penicillium often produces microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC’s) and some species produce mycotoxins. Toxins produced include: ochratoxin A, penicillic acid, peptide nephrotoxin, viomellein, xanthomegin, xanthocillin X, mycophenolic acid, roquefortine C & D, citrinin, penicillin, cyclopiazonic acid, isofumigaclavine A, penitrem A, decumbin, patulin citreoviridin, griseofulvin, verruculogen, ochratoxin, chrysogine, and meleagrin.
Can Penicillium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Yes, although it is indistinguishable from the Aspergillus species.
Can Penicillium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
It is easily identified if sporulating structures are observed, otherwise may be indistinguishable from the Aspergillus species.
Stachybotrys is one of the most feared indoor molds as it is known as the nefarious “black mold.” There are 15+ species and it requires high moisture content to flourish.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Sordariomycetes (Class) > Hypocreales (Order) > Stachybotryaceae (Family)
What Does Stachybotrys Look Like?
Stachybotrys species have a slow to moderately rapid growth rate. Colonies are generally black but may also appear dark green, white, pink, or orange in color. Stachybotrys colonies have a powdery texture and are damp.
Where Does Stachybotrys Grow?
Indoors, Stachybotrys is known for growing on cellulose material such as woods, cardboard, paper, hay or wicker.
Outdoors, Stachybotrys is often found growing on soil, decaying plant substrates, decomposing cellulose (hay, straw), leaf litter, and seeds.
What Hazard Class Is Stachybotrys In?
Hazard Class A – Toxic Mold. Stachybotrys species produce a number of mycotoxins that may be deleterious to human and animal health. These mycotoxins include the trichothecenes roridan E, satratoxins F, G, and H, and verrucarin J.
Can Stachybotrys Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Yes, but may be confused with carbon fragments, memnoniella or gliomastix.
Can Stachybotrys Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Stachybotrus is distinctive. Direct samples are preferred over culturable methods because Stachybotrys sometimes will not grow in culture.
Trichoderma is a very common fungi present in nearly all soils. There are 5 different subspecies of Trichoderma.
Trichoderma is extremely damaging to building materials. It contains an enzyme that destroys wood and paper products as well as textiles. This leads to rot and causes these structures to crumble. A trichoderma mold infestation must be dealt with professionally to stop the destruction of building materials and prevent further health hazards.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Sordariomycetes (Class) > Hypocreales (Order) > Hypocreaceae (Family)
What Does Trichoderma Look Like?
This wool-textured white mold features green patches.
Where Does Trichoderma Grow?
In an indoor environment, Trichoderma are commonly found on gypsum board and water saturated wood, wallpaper, carpet and mattress dust, paint, and air-conditioning filters.
Outdoors, Trichoderma is a common soil, litter, and wood fungus.
What Hazard Class Is Trichoderma In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Mold. Most trichoderma molds are non-pathogenic but other types produce mycotoxins.
Can Trichoderma Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Trichoderma Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
There are 9+ species of this rapidly growing mold with a high moisture requirement.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Ascomycota (Division) > Dothideomycetes (Class) > Pleosporomycetidae (Subclass) > Pleosporales (Order) > Pleosporaceae (Family)
What Does Ulocladium Look Like?
Ulocladium is black/brown to olive-black or greyish and suede-like to woolly to cottony.
Where Does Ulocladium Grow?
Ulocladium is typically found in homes and buildings that have experienced extreme water damage. It can be found in kitchens, bathrooms and basements as well as around windows with high condensation levels.
Indoors Ulocladium can be found growing on paper, textiles, various building materials, wicker and straw material, and tapestries.
Outdoors Ulocladium is often found growing in soil, dung, paint, grasses, fibers, wood, and decaying plant material.
What Hazard Class Is Ulocladium In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic Mold.
Can Ulocladium Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Yes -very common in air.
Can Ulocladium Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
Unlike most forms of mold, Wallemia can grow under relatively dry conditions. It needs much less moisture than most strains of mold. It also grows more slowly than many other strains of mold. So far only 3 species of Wallemia have been identified and named.
Biota > Fungi (Kingdom) > Basidiomycota (Division) > Wallemiales (Order) > Wallemiaceae (Family)
What Does Wallemia Look Like?
Wallemia is a slow growing, thickish, brownish blob.
Where Does Wallemia Grow?
Indoors, Wallemia can be found on wooden surfaces, including walls, floors and furniture, and in mattresses, HVAC systems, and ductwork.
Wallemia is also found in sugary foods, salted meats, dairy products, textiles, soil, hay and fruits.
What Hazard Class Is Wallemia In?
Hazard Class B – Allergenic
Can Wallemia Be Identified Via Air Testing?
Can Wallemia Be Identified Via Dust Tests, Tape Lifts, or Other Direct Sampling Methods?
What Are The Most Common Outdoor Molds?
While there are tens of thousands of outdoor mold species, these are the most common molds that are found exclusively outdoors. As noted in the specific mold species descriptions above, some common indoor molds are also found outdoors.
- Emericella – Found in soil and decomposing wood.
Other Molds To Be Aware Of
While these indoor molds and outdoor molds are species to be aware of (as you may find them on a mold test result) they are less common and/or do not present major health concerns. The molds below are considered allergenic molds or pathogenic molds.
Bipolaris is a widespread fungus that is most frequently associated with grasses, plant material, decaying food, and soil. It is found both in indoor and outdoor environments. Various species of this fungus can produce the mycotoxin sterigmatocystin
Geomyces is a saprophytic fungus widespread in nature. It is frequently isolated from soil and from air samples. In indoor environments, it is found in mattress dust, on damp walls, and paper in libraries. It also found on swimming pool floors and gymnasium floors.
A common contaminant of grains, fruits, dairy products, paper, textiles, soil, and water.
Gliocladium species are saprobes and commonly strongly cellulolytic. They have a world-wide distribution and are commonly isolated from a wide range of plant debris and soil. Gliocladium is also commonly isolated from moldy fabrics.
Gliomastix is a type of mold frequently found in soil and has been isolated from bottled fruit, textiles, cosmetics, paper, paint, asbestos, and wood.
Memnoniella is a widespread strongly cellulolytic fungus. It has been isolated from wet gypsum board, cotton, canvas, hardboard and woolen fabrics. Memnoniella is morphologically very similar to Stachybotrys but it produces spores in chains. It produces many of the toxins produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, suggesting that Memnoniella should also be considered potentially dangerous in indoor air.
Myrothecium is common throughout the world. It has frequently been found on materials such as paper, textiles, canvas and cotton. It is an extremely potent cellulose decomposer. It has been formulated into a pesticide for control of nematodes and weeds.
There are two common species of Oidiodendron.
Oidiodendron griseum is a widespread fungus. It has been isolated from wood pulp and soil.
Oidiodendron tenuissimum is commonly isolated from wood and wood pulp, soil, bark and cork. It produces toxic metabolic products under some conditions.
Commonly found in soil and dust, less frequently in air.
Phialophora species are commonly isolated from wood and wood products, plant debris, soil and animal feces. Species of Phialophora have caused problems clogging plastic water pipes and tanks. Some species cause blue staining of wood.
The species Phialophora fastigiata is widespread in soil, decaying wood and some cereal and grass seeds. It has been recorded from the wooden boards of a sauna and from wood pulp and slime from paper mills. Indoors, it is found on very wet wood and humidifier water.
Typically an indoor air allergen. The species are isolated from soil and associated plants (particularly potatoes). Phoma produces pink and purple spots on painted walls. It will grow on butter, paint, cement, and rubber.
Scopulariopsis is a large group comprised of a number of species commonly found in soil, decaying wood, and various other plant and animal products.
In indoor environments it is found on damp walls, cellulose board and wallpaper, wood, floor and mattress dust. Species of Scopulariopsis has also been isolated from carpets, hospital floors, swimming pools, wooden food packing, shoes, and wood pulp. Scopulariopsis species are sometimes encountered growing on meat in storage.
In the past, there have been a few serious poisoning incidents due to the growth of Scopulariopsis brevicaulis on dyes used in wallpaper production.
Of the group, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis is by far the most common species encountered in an indoor environment. It is found growing on all kinds of decomposing organic matter, and flourishes on materials containing a high level of protein, such as meat and ripening cheese. It decomposes cotton, textiles and paper products and causes deterioration of paints. It is also implicated as a human pathogen.
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- Dr. Jack Thrasher, toxicologist