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Toxic fungus thrives in bathroom sinks

Plumbing systems may be a common source of human infections, say researchers studying the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink drains.

“With about two-thirds of sinks found to harbor Fusarium, it’s clear that those buildings’ inhabitants are exposed to these fungi on a regular basis,” says lead investigator Dylan Short, who recently completed his doctorate in plant pathology. “This strongly supports the hypothesis that plumbing-surface biofilms serve as reservoirs for human pathogenic fusaria.”

Lead investigator Dylan Short explains that biofilms on plumbing surfaces are known to comprise a diverse spectrum of fungi and other microbes. “Based on its very high frequency, it is clear that Fusarium is a ubiquitous component of biofilm microbial communities in plumbing systems,” he says. “The adaptations that make Fusarium biofilm growth possible also may facilitate infection of humans.

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