Recent Advances in Microbiology of Cotton Relevant to Byssinosis: II. The Fungi

M.E. Simpson and P.B. Marsh


Data on cotton samples from the U.S. crops of 1970 and 1971 made it seem probable that certain fungi known to be seasonally common in outdoor air and widely believed by physicians to cause seasonal asthma in the general population are also common in raw cotton fiber. Similar data from the crops of 1980 and 1981 have now confirmed this conclusion on the composition of the fungal population of U.S. cotton fiber. The data further support the idea that some of these fungi, especially Alternaria sp. and Cladosporium herbarum, may be involved in the causation of byssinosis, often called an "occupational asthma".

Alternaria sp., Cladosporium herbarum, and Fusarium spp. were found in many fiber-samples from all growing areas in all four years, even in the unusually not dry season of 1980. Aspergillus niger and Rhizopus stolonifer were seen in all four years in fiber from Texas-Oklahoma and the Far West, but also eastward of this normal range in 1980. Colletotrichum gossyppii, more dependent on high moisture, was detected in 1970-71 but not in 1980-81 in the Southeast and mid-South; Diplodia gossypina is common in fiber from the same regions. Aspergillus flavus in the fiber is restricted unusually hot growing areas in California, Arizona, and southern Texas. Actinomycetes were seen in fiber of many samples in all four years; others have suggested a possible role for them in causing byssinosis.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1983 Beltwide Cotton Dust Conference pp. 49 - 52
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998