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Volatile organic compounds from fungi isolated after hurricane katrina induce developmental defects and apoptosis in a Drosophila melanogaster model



In previous work, our laboratory developed a Drosophila model for studying the adverse effects of fungal volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by growing cultures of molds. In this report, we have extended these studies and compared the toxic effects of fungal VOCs emitted from living cultures of four molds isolated after Hurricane Katrina from a flooded home in New Orleans. Strains of Aspergillus, Mucor, Penicillium, and Trichoderma were grown with wild-type larvae and the toxic effects of volatile products on the developmental stages of Drosophila larvae were evaluated. Furthermore, heterozygous mutants of Drosophila carrying the apoptotic genes, reaper and dronc, were used to assess the role of apoptosis in fungal VOCs mediated toxicity. Third-instar larvae of Drosophila carrying these apoptotic genes were exposed to fungal VOCs emitted from growing mold cultures for 10 days. The larval strains carrying apoptopic genes survived longer than the control wild type larvae; moreover, of those that survived, heterozygous reaper and dronc strains progressed to pupae and adult phases more rapidly, suggesting that fungal VOCs may induce apoptotic changes in flies. These data lend support to the use of Drosophila as an inexpensive and genetically versatile toxicological model to investigate the mechanistic basis for some of the human illnesses/symptoms associated with exposure to mold-contaminated indoor air, especially after hurricanes. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 30: 614–620, 2015.