Rhizopus spp- An Overview


Rhizopus spp is a genus of common saprophytic fungi that belong to the family Mucoraceae and the order Mucorales. They are also known as pin or bread molds because of their appearance on bread and other food products.

Rhizopus spp are widely distributed in nature and can be found on a variety of organic substrates, such as soil, decaying fruits and vegetables, jellies, syrups, leather, tobacco, peanuts, animal feces, and compost. They can also grow in indoor environments, such as homes and businesses, where they may cause spoilage of food or damage to materials.

Rhizopus spp are able to thrive in different environmental conditions, such as warm and humid or cool and dry climates. They can tolerate a wide range of pH levels (from 2 to 11) and temperatures (from 5°C to 45°C). They can also grow in low oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels.

Rhizopus spp have both economic and medical importance. Some species are used in industrial processes, such as the production of lactic acid, fumaric acid, cortisone, biotin, alcoholic beverages, and fermented foods (e.g., tempeh). However, some species are also responsible for diseases in plants and animals, including humans. The most serious human infection caused by Rhizopus spp is mucormycosis (also known as zygomycosis), which is a rare but often fatal disease that affects the sinuses, lungs, brain, skin, and other organs. Mucormycosis mainly occurs in immunocompromised individuals or those with underlying conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, malignancies, renal failure, organ transplant, burns, or AIDS.

In this article, we will discuss the morphological and cultural characteristics of Rhizopus spp, the pathogenesis of Rhizopus spp in humans, animals, and plants, the clinical manifestations of mucormycosis/zygomycosis, the laboratory diagnosis of mucormycosis (Rhizopus spp), the treatment of mucormycosis, and some selected species of Rhizopus and their industrial uses.