Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Biomedical Science

Program or Major

Medical Laboratory Science

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Juan U. Rojo


Opportunistic mycoses are caused by ubiquitous fungi that we encounter daily. This study identified the most common opportunistic fungi in a local area during the current winter season. A survey of fungi was conducted in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire region by taking environmental samples from both indoor and outdoor locations. The samples were then cultured and identified using colony morphology, microscopic characteristics, and biochemical testing. Despite the cold weather, the results showed that fungal species are still prevalent outdoors, with the most variation in single samples coming from areas with exposed soil and decaying vegetation, while less fungal presence was detected outdoors in more developed, high-traffic areas. Comparatively, specimens collected from indoor locations were less varied and more prevalent in “high-traffic” areas, such as offices, shower stalls, and refrigerators. Opportunistic fungal infections account for more than 75,000 hospitalizations and over 9 million outpatient visits in the United States annually.1 If looked at in conjunction with the increasing immunocompromised population in this country, opportunistic mycoses are projected to continue increasing as well. A survey of regional opportunistic fungi is important in establishing what species are present and could be helpful in identifying the causative agents of opportunistic mycoses that arise in that community.