The key difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium is that Aspergillus is a genus of ascomycetes fungi that have an unbranched and non-septate conidiophore, while Penicillium is another genus of ascomycetes fungi that have a branched, septate and brush-like conidiophore.
Ascomycota is a phylum of Kingdom Fungi. In fact, it is the largest phylum of fungi with about 64,000 species described. They are filamentous septate fungi. They reproduce via ascospores produced in the sac-like structure called ascus. Most ascomycetes fungi make symbiotic relationships with algae or cyanobacteria, forming lichens. Moreover, they help in the formation of mycorrhizae as well. Some ascomycetes produce antibiotics while some act as model organisms in genetics and cell biology studies. Not only that, many species cause plant and animal diseases. Among the many different genera of ascomycetes, Aspergillus and Penicillium are two popular and important genera.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Aspergillus
3. What is Penicillium
4. Similarities Between Aspergillus and Penicillium
5. Side by Side Comparison – Aspergillus vs Penicillium in Tabular Form
What is Aspergillus?
Aspergillus is a genus of ascomycetes fungi commonly found in soil and other environments, especially abundant on organic materials. It consists of about 300 identified species of molds. Most of the Aspergillus species reproduce asexually by the formation of asexual spores. Other species use sexual reproduction methods. Aspergillus species show great industrial importance. Their value in commercial-scale organic acid and enzyme production is enormous. Citric acid is one of the major organic acids produced by A. niger. Over 99 % of the global citric acid production happens with the use of Aspergillus fungal species. Through the fermentation process, Aspergillus species synthesize enzymes such as glucose oxidase, lysozyme, amylases, pectinases, proteases, and lactase, and it is useful in industries when producing enzymes in commercial scale.
Furthermore, Aspergillus species are useful as a bio adsorbent to detoxify and decolourize wastewater samples. They are also useful in the biotransformation of xenobiotics, bioremediation and as a cell protein for feed. Not only those, but some Aspergillus species also act as potential biofertilizers, which can increase nutrients in the soil.
Also, most of the Aspergillus species are less harmful. But some species cause aspergillosis, pneumonia otomycosis, cutaneous infections, and pulmonary disease, etc.
What is Penicillium?
Penicillium is another genus of ascomycetes fungi. Similar to Aspergillus, Penicillium species are also present everywhere in the environment. Most Penicillium species are plant growth-promoting fungi which enhance the growth of plants. Moreover, Penicillium spp increases disease resistance against Downy Mildew disease. Furthermore, some Penicillium species are efficient cellulase producers under submerged fermentation. Hence, Penicillium species show a greater potential in effective bioconversion of cellulosic biomass into biofuels and biochemicals to replace fossil fuels by the enzymatic hydrolysis. P. echinulatum and P. oxalicum are capable of producing the enzyme β-glucosidase, which is essential in the biomass-based biofuel industry. P. oxalicum has been identified as an efficient phosphate solubilizing fungus and a potential biofertilizer. Moreover, Penicillium species are capable of working as a bio-control agent in inhibiting the growth of root and crown rot pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum.
Although Penicillium species are not known to cause invasive diseases, they cause crop diseases. For example, P. oxalicum has been reported as a causative agent for blue mold in tomato in Mexico.
What are the Similarities Between Aspergillus and Penicillium?
- Both Aspergillus and Penicillium are ascomycetes fungi.
- Both are filamentous fungi, which are ubiquitous.
- They have great potential as a biofertilizer.
- Moreover, they are industrially important in synthesizing enzymes, organic acids, etc.
What is the Difference Between Aspergillus and Penicillium?
Ascomycetes are sac fungi. Aspergillus and Penicillium are two genera of ascomycetes. Aspergillus conidiophores are non-septate and unbranched stalks while Penicillium conidiophores are septate and branched brush-like structures. So, this is the key difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Moreover, the colour of the Aspergillus species ranges from green, yellow, brown to black while Penicillium species are mostly blue in colour. Therefore, this too is a difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Below infographic shows more comparisons related to the difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium.
Aspergillus and Penicillium are two genera of Ascomycetes fungi. Both fungi genera include filamentous fungi. However, they primarily differ from conidiophores characteristics. Aspergillus fungi have a non-septate and unbranched conidiophore or stalk. On the other hand, Penicillium species have brush-like conidiophores and are septate and branched. So, this is the key difference between Aspergillus and Penicillium.