Wallemia Mold

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Wallemia spp.

The genus Wallemia is xerophilic. Three species of Wallemia have been identified. These are W. ichthyophaga, W. sebi, and W. muriae. Wallemia sebi is the most well known species. It has been isolated from air, soil, dried food (causing spoilage) and salt. Since the species within the genus Wallemia have been recognized only recently, little is known about their mechanisms of adaptation to low water activity substrates.

Wallemia sebi has a world-wide distribution. It is common in indoor environments and has been isolated from jams, dates, bread, cakes, salted beans and fish, bacon, fruits, soil, hay, and textiles. It is also common in agricultural environments where it is suspected to be one of the causes of farmer’s lung disease and other human allergies.

Wallemia sebi produces extremely tiny spores (even smaller than spores of some species of Penicillium or Aspergillus) that are reported to be highly allergenic. Their small size would certainly allow for efficient invasion of the respiratory system. Some strains of Wallemia produce the mycotoxins walleminol and walleminon and may cause subcutaneous infections and allergic reactions (farmer’s lung disease) in humans.

Click here to learn about other common mold species.


Polona Zalar, G. Sybren de Hoog, Hans-Josef Schroers, John Michael Frank and Nina Gunde-Cimerman (2005). Taxonomy and phylogeny of the xerophilic genus Wallemia (Wallemiomycetes and Wallemiales, cl. et ord. nov.). Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (2005) 87:311–328.

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Dr Jackson Kung'u
Dr. Jackson Kung’u is a Microbiologist who has specialized in the field of mycology (the study of moulds and yeasts). He is a member of the Mycological Society of America. He graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, with a Masters degree in Fungal Technology and a PhD in Microbiology. He has published several research papers in international scientific journals. Jackson has analyzed thousands of mould samples from across Canada. He also regularly teaches a course on how to recognize mould, perform effective sampling and interpret laboratory results. Jackson provides how-to advice on mould and bacteria issues. Get more information about indoor mould and bacteria at www.drjacksonkungu.com.
Dr Jackson Kung'u

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