Stachybotrys chartarum (atra) is a toxigenic fungus frequently found in water-damaged buildings. Although microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) produced by Aspergillus, Penicillium, and other fungi have been investigated extensively, little information exists on what MVOCs can be produced by S. chartarum. In this study, three strains of S. chartarum isolated from water-damaged residential homes in Cleveland, Ohio, were cultivated on rice and gypsum board. Air samples were collected after one, two, three, four, and six weeks of cultivation using Tenax TA tubes. Unique MVOCs were determined and other alcohols, ketones, and terpenes were also investigated using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry after thermal desorption from the sampling tube. Four unique MVOCs, 1-butanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 3-methyl-2-butanol, and thujopsene, were detected on rice cultures, and only one of them (1-butanol) was detected on gypsum board cultures. For a given strain, volatiles were considerably different with different cultivation media. Concentration profiles of the volatile compounds varied among compounds; however,each compound exhibited corresponding concentration trends between the strains. In comparison with our previous studies of five Aspergillus species on gypsum board under the same experimental conditions, fewer unique MVOCs were produced by S. chartarum, and they were quite different. It thus may be possible to use marker-unique MVOCs as a fingerprint to distinguish fungi in indoor environments once enough information becomes available. Our findings also indicate that volatiles produced by S. chartarum may represent a relatively small fraction of the total volatiles present in problem buildings where Aspergillus spp., Penicillium spp., and other fungi usually coexist.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV