Microorganisms. 2021 Mar 5;9(3):539. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9030539.
Fungal infections due to Aspergillus species have become a major cause of morbidity and mortality among immunocompromised patients. At the Medical University of Innsbruck, A. terreus and related species are the second most common causative agents of aspergillosis. In this one-year study we collected environmental samples to investigate (i) the environmental distribution, (ii) the ecological niche of A. terreus in Tyrol, (iii) the genetic relatedness of environmental and clinical isolates and the correlation between those two groups of isolates, and (iv) the antifungal susceptibility patterns. A. terreus was present in 5.4% of 3845 environmental samples, with a significantly higher frequency during winter (6.8%) than summer (3.9%). An increased A. terreus abundance in Tyrol's Eastern part was detected which is in agreement with the proof of clinical cases. In total, 92% of environmental and 98% of clinical A. terreus isolates were amphotericin B resistant; 22.6% and 9.8% were resistant against posaconazole. Overall, 3.9% of clinical isolates were resistant against voriconazole. Short tandem repeat analysis identified three major genotypes persisting in Tyrol. Soil from agricultural cornfields seems to be an important source; the environmental frequency of A. terreus correlates with the high incidence of A. terreus infections in certain geographical areas.