Extremophiles (2017) 21:851–860
Antarctic rocks from continental Antarctica as source of potential
human opportunistic fungi
Vívian N. Gonçalves
· Fabio S. Oliveira
· Camila R. Carvalho
Carlos E. G. R. Schaefer
· Carlos A. Rosa
· Luiz H. Rosa
Received: 25 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 June 2017 / Published online: 28 June 2017
© Springer Japan KK 2017
and mycotoxigenic taxa with physiologic virulence charac-
teristics in vitro.
Keywords Antarctica · Extremophile · Taxonomy ·
Antarctica has some of the most diverse and pristine envi-
ronments on the planet, which include habitats that com-
bine cold, dry, oligotrophic conditions with radiation
extremes (Gonçalves et al. 2012). These unusual environ-
ments offer new opportunities to discover extremophile
microorganisms and study their abilities to survive at the
limits of life (Santiago et al. 2012). Among the biota of
Antarctica, these microorganisms, represented by bacteria,
viruses, protozoa and fungi, occur in different substrates
and seem to have important roles in the ecological pro-
cesses of the region (Ruisi et al. 2007).
Fungi are highly adapted to their habitat and are able
to survive in harsh environments with extreme tempera-
tures, prolonged desiccation, and high solar irradiation.
They adapt by changing their physiology and morphology
through the production of enzymes, melanin, and micospor-
ins (Gostincar et al. 2012). Among the fungi groups, those
associated with rocks have been studied due to their capac-
ity to survive on rock surfaces, which represent a unique
habitat where rapid changes in radiation, temperature,
water, and nutrients occur, representing a challenge to
microbial survival in different environments throughout the
world (Gueidan et al. 2008).
Few fungal species have been described as causa-
tive agents of mycoses; however, unknown fungi present
in unexplored regions may display pathogenic virulence
Abstract We assessed the diversity of culturable fungi
associated with rocks of continental Antarctica to evalu-
ate their physiological opportunistic virulence potential
in vitro. The seventy fungal isolates obtained were identi-
ﬁed as nine species of Acremonium, Byssochlamys, Clad-
osporium, Debaryomyces, Penicillium, and Rhodotorula.
Acremonium sp., D. hansenii, P. chrysogenum, P. citrinum,
P. tardochrysogenum, and R. mucilaginosa were able to
grow at 37 °C; in addition, B. spectabilis displayed a high
level of growth at 37 and 45 °C. Thirty-one isolates of P.
chrysogenum, P. citrinum, and P. tardochrysogenum were
able to produce partial haemolysis on blood agar at 37 °C.
Acremonium sp., P. citrinum, and P. tardochrysogenum
showed spore sizes ranging from 2.81 to 5.13 µm diameters
at 37 °C. Of these, P. chrysogenum and P. tardochrysoge-
num displayed macro- and micro morphological polymor-
phism. Our results suggest that rocks of the ultra-extreme
cold and dry environment of Antarctica harbour cryptic
fungi phylogenetically close to opportunistic pathogenic
Communicated by A. Oren.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (doi:10.1007/s00792-017-0947-x) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
* Luiz H. Rosa
Department of Microbiology, Federal University of Minas
Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG 31270-901, Brazil
Department of Geography, Federal University of Minas
Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
Department of Soil Science, Federal University of Viçosa,
Viçosa, MG, Brazil