Biodiversity experts estimate that there may be 1.5 million species of fungi on earth, of which only approximately 100,000 have been described. Of these described species, the approximately 200 taxa that comprise the genus Aspergillus are among the most commonly encountered molds. Adapted to many habitats, exhibiting a wide range of metabolic activities, and capable of the production of astronomical numbers of spores, Aspergillus species are found throughout the biosphere. A few species are economically important as biotechnological resources, whereas others have gained notoriety for their negative impact on human health and commerce. For example, some aspergilli are used in industrial fermentations to produce enzymes, pharmaceuticals, and bulk chemicals; others are important components of Asian food fermentations; still others are major agents of biodeterioration; and a few common species cause allergenic, pathogenic, and toxi-genic diseases in humans and other animals.
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