Our Focus


In recent years, our lab has isolated many dematiaceous fungi from clinical samples normally found in environment not been directly associated to human infection. Despite their rarity in clinical significance, these fungi have been increasingly recognized as important opportunistic pathogen due to the spectrum of diseases has also been broadened particularly in immunocompromised patients at tropical and subtropical countries. The fungal researcher team led by Prof. Dr Ng Kee Peng received a funding from the University of Malaya’s High Impact Research (HIR) MoE Grant aim to carry out a study to identify, molecular characterisation and genomic evolution on dematiaceous fungi isolated from clinical specimens collected from patients.



Dematiceous Fungi


Dematiaceous fungi are a heterogeneous group of fungi with dark colonies and pigmented fungal elements due to the melanin in their cell walls. They are typically soil saprophytes, plant pathogens, and laboratory contaminants with a worldwide distribution in humid environments. Many species in this group are known to cause allergic reactions and potentially fatal diseases in humans and animals, especially in tropical and subtropical climates.


Until 2008, more than 130 species from 70 genera have been recorded to be associated with infections in humans and animals (1), a vast increase from the 59 species belonging to 28 genera reported in 1996 by Rossmann et al. (2). The genera most frequently involved in human infections include Bipolaris, Curvularia, Exserohilum, and Alternaria (3). Many of the fungi are common allergens growing indoors. Besides causing hypersensitivity reactions in susceptible individuals that sometimes lead to acute exacerbation of asthma, they are also important opportunistic pathogens in immunocompromised patients (4-5). The spectrum of diseases associated with dematiaceous fungi ranges from superficial skin and soft tissue infections to disseminated sepsis with high mortality. The most common infections are phaeohyphomycosis (6), chromoblastomycosis, (7) and eumycetoma (8-9).



  1. Kumar KK, Hallikeri K. Phaeohyphomycosis. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2008; 51: 55 - 558.
  2. Rossmann SN, Cernoch PL, Davis JR. Dematiaceous fungi are an increasing cause of human disease. Clin Infect Dis. 1996; 22: 73 - 80.
  3. Revankar SG, Sutton D A. Melanized fungi in human disease. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2010; 23: 884 - 928.
  4. Kubak BM, Huprikar SS. Emerging & rare fungal infections in solid organ transplant recipients. Am J Transplant. 2009; 9 Suppl 4: S208 - S226.
  5. Vermeire SEM, de Jonge H, Lagrou K, Kuypers DRJ. Cutaneous phaeohyphomycosis in renal allograft recipients: report of 2 cases and review of the literature. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2010; 68: 177 - 180.
  6. Levin TP, Baty DE, Fekete T, Truant AL, Suh B. Cladophialophora bantiana Brain Abscess in a Solid-Organ Transplant Recipient?: Case Report and Review of the Literature. J Clin Microbiol. 2004; 42: 4374 - 4378.
  7. López Martínez R, Méndez Tovar LJ. Chromoblastomycosis. Clin Dermatol. 2007; 25: 188 - 194.
  8. Afroz N, Khan N, Siddiqui FA, Rizvi M. Eumycetoma versus actinomycetoma: Diagnosis on cytology. J Cytol. 2010; 27: 133 - 135.
  9. Al-Tawfiq JA, Amr SS. Madura leg due to Exophiala jeanselmei successfully treated with surgery and itraconazole therapy. Med Mycol. 2009; 47: 64 - 652.