The Lierl Lab researches the role of outdoor fungal and myxomycete spores as aeroallergens and is engaged in research projects related to food allergy.

Myxomycete (slime mold) and basidiomycete (mushroom) spores: Unrecognized aeroallergens?

Myxomycetes (slime molds) and basidiomycetes are common organisms in our outdoor environment. The myxomycetes have a phase of their life cycle during which they move around in amoeboid fashion, ingesting bacteria and other nutrients from soil or plant matter. Thus, they are classified as amoebozoans. However, when they run out of water or nutrients, the myxomycetes form fruiting bodies similar to those of fungi and release spores into the air.

Basidiomycetes are fungi that produce their spores on specialized structures called basidia. There are many, varied species of basidiomycetes, including mushrooms, jelly fungi, puffballs, crust or parchment fungi and conks.

Spores from these organisms are found in both outdoor and indoor air samples, especially during the months of April through November. Thus, these spores could be a cause of seasonal allergy symptoms. There are no commercially available allergen extracts of myxomycete or basidiomycete spores, so patients suffering with seasonal allergies cannot be tested to determine whether they are allergic to them. The goal of these studies is to determine whether myxomycete and basidiomycete spores are important seasonal aeroallergens.