Aspergillus is a saprophytic fungus that helps remove environmental carbon and nitrogen from the earth’s atmosphere. Aspergillus is most commonly found in soil, but its spores propagate rapidly in the air with each fungus capable of producing thousands of conidia. These spores are commonly spread through environmental disturbances and strong air currents, that allow them to be found both indoors and out. Aspergillus spores are tiny, even by biological standards, allowing them to travel great distances in the air.

Why is Aspergillus dangerous to cannabis users?

Aspergillus is especially dangerous to immunocompromised individuals, in whom the airborne spores can lead to a debilitating invasive infection, called aspergillosis, that oftentimes proves to be fatal. A 1992 study found the incidence of cases of aspergillosis per year to be 1 – 2 patients per 100,000 people; however, this number is likely much higher today due to the increased use of immunosuppressants and stem cell therapy. A 1983 study isolated Aspergillus fumigatus spores from cannabis smoke, indicating the spores do in fact survive combustion. There are a variety of factors that can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing aspergillosis including, but not limited to:

  • The ingestion of immunosuppressive drugs (after undergoing bone or organ transplants)
  • Low white blood cell count (resulting from chemotherapy)
  • Asthma or cystic fibrosis
  • Long-term corticosteroid therapy

While immunocompromised individuals are at greater risk of Aspergillus infection, there has been at least one confirmed case of aspergillosis developing in an immunocompetent cannabis user.

There are several hundred different species of Aspergillus, and not all are dangerous to humans. A. fumigatus is the species that most commonly causes infection, and it has been linked to the death of at least one immunocompromised cannabis user. A. flavus, A. niger, and A. terreus have also been shown to cause infection.

Who requires Aspergillus testing on cannabis?

A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus                              A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger

  • Arizona                                                                                        – Alaska
  • California                                                                                    – Hawaii
  • Florida                                                                                         – Vermont
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada*
*Only required for select matrices, view our Cannabis Microbial Testing Regulations by State page for more information

Why Use qPCR for Aspergillus testing on Cannabis?

Aspergillus grows poorly on various culture-based microbial tests. As a result, there are no Aspergillus-specific culture tests on the market. This is likely due to Aspergillus forming heterogeneous macro-colonies in solution and thus single CFUs are actually derived from a clump of hundreds to thousands of viable cells.

Only DNA-based testing can accurately differentiate between Aspergillus species. This is important because only specific species  cause Aspergillosis, the potentially deadly lung infection. We demonstrated this in our Manufacturer’s Validation Document where we spiked A. brasiliensis into samples and it did not trigger a positive result on any of our Aspergillus detection assays. On the other hand, labs that rely on visual inspection to differentiate Aspergillus species have incorrectly identified A. brasiliensis as A. niger, leading to false failures.

Test for Aspergillus with PathoSEEK

We offer a variety of PathoSEEK qPCR assays that labs can use to test for A. flavusA. fumigatusA. niger, and A. terreus on cannabis samples. Our new 5-Color Aspergillus Multiplex Assay can independently identify all four species plus a cannabis control–using just one reaction. Our 2-Color Aspergillus Multiplex Assay detects the same four species of Aspergillus in the FAM channel and an internal control in the HEX channel. Finally we also offer individual assays for each of the Aspergillus species. All the PathoSEEK assays have gone through a rigorous manufacturer validation to show accuracy, precision, specificity, linearity and limit of detection.


Start Testing with PathoSEEK

Available Aspergillus Products

420148PathoSEEK® Aspergillus 5-Color Multiplex Detection Assay (AriaMX)200Buy Now
420147PathoSEEK® Aspergillus 5-Color Multiplex Detection Assay (CFX)200Buy Now
420130PathoSEEK® Aspergillus 2-Color Multiplex Detection Assay200Buy Now
420111PathoSEEK® Aspergillus flavus Detection Assay200Buy Now
420311PathoSEEK® Aspergillus flavus Positive Control50Buy Now
420110PathoSEEK® Aspergillus fumigatus Detection Assay200Buy Now
420310PathoSEEK® Aspergillus fumigatus Positive Control50Buy Now
420109PathoSEEK® Aspergillus niger Detection Assay200Buy Now
420309PathoSEEK® Aspergillus niger Positive Control50Buy Now
420129PathoSEEK® Aspergillus terreus Detection Assay200Buy Now
420329PathoSEEK® Aspergillus terreus Positive Control50Buy Now

Contact to Listing Owner

Captcha Code

Fill form to watch Video