Open Access Research article

Rapid identification of allergenic and pathogenic molds in environmental air by an oligonucleotide array

Wen-Tsung Hung1, Shu-Li Su2, Lin-Yi Shiu1 and Tsung C Chang2*

Author Affiliations

1 Environmental Analysis Laboratory, Environmental Protection Administration, Zhongli, Taiwan

2 Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-91

Published: 13 April 2011



Airborne fungi play an important role in causing allergy and infections in susceptible people. Identification of these fungi, based on morphological characteristics, is time-consuming, expertise-demanding, and could be inaccurate.


We developed an oligonucleotide array that could accurately identify 21 important airborne fungi (13 genera) that may cause adverse health problems. The method consisted of PCR amplification of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions, hybridization of the PCR products to a panel of oligonucleotide probes immobilized on a nylon membrane, and detection of the hybridization signals with alkaline phosphatase-conjugated antibodies.


A collection of 72 target and 66 nontarget reference strains were analyzed by the array. Both the sensitivity and specificity of the array were 100%, and the detection limit was 10 pg of genomic DNA per assay. Furthermore, 70 fungal isolates recovered from air samples were identified by the array and the identification results were confirmed by sequencing of the ITS and D1/D2 domain of the large-subunit RNA gene. The sensitivity and specificity of the array for identification of the air isolates was 100% (26/26) and 97.7% (43/44), respectively.


Identification of airborne fungi by the array was cheap and accurate. The current array may contribute to decipher the relationship between airborne fungi and adverse health effect.