The effects of substrate water availability on the isolation and growth of fungi
The work reported in this thesis was carried out to contribute to the knowledge of the effects of substrate water availability or water activity (a ) on fungal growth parameters and its implications in the preparationw of materials susceptible to biodeterioration. Fungi were isolated from soils of different ecological sites at a range of substrate aw levels controlled by sodium chloride (NaCl). Three groups of fungi were isolated : firstly, those isolated only at high a (aw about 0.997).secondly, those isolated at high and decreasing aw (aw 0.997 to 0.85) and finally, those isolated at only decreased aw (aw O.95 to 0.80). From these isolations, test fungi were selected to study the effects of pH, temperature, exo-enzyme production and biocide efficacy at decreased aw levels, with glycerol and NaCl as a controlling solutes. The linear extension rates of the fungi increased at all test pH values near optimum a of growth. Test fungi of the Aspergillus glaucus group were found to be most resistant to low aw. Growth and survival of vegetative and fruiting bodies at elevated temperatures were enhanced with the addition of a controlling solutes. A. flavus, A. fumigatus displayed high heat resistance and A. amstelodami, A. versicolor and Penicillium citrinum displayed low heat resistance at high aw levels and vice versa at low aw levels. Amylase, lipase and protease activities were studied at lowered aw , using modifications of the test tube method of Raute11a and Cowling. Amylase and protease production in most xerophilic fungi ceased around 0.80 aw , but lipase production in some xerophilic fungi, including A. glatlcus fungi, was up to and including 0.70 aw with g1ycero1.