World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1315–1324 | Cite as

Cold, pH and salt tolerant Penicillium spp. inhabit the high altitude soils in Himalaya, India

  • Kusum Dhakar
  • Avinash Sharma
  • Anita Pandey
Original Paper


Twenty five fungal cultures (Penicillium spp.), isolated from soil samples from the high altitudes in the Indian Himalayan region, have been characterized following polyphasic approach. Colony morphology performed on five different media gave varying results; potato dextrose agar being the best for the vegetative growth and sporulation as well. Microscopic observations revealed 18 isolates to be biverticillate and 7 monoverticillate. Based on the phenotypic characters (colony morphology and microscopy), all the isolates were designated to the genus Penicillium. Exposure to low temperature resulted in enhanced sporulation in 23 isolates, while it ceased in case of two. The fungal isolates produced watery exudates in varying amount that in many cases increased at low temperature. All the isolates could grow between 4 and 37 °C, (optimum 24 °C), hence considered psychrotolerant. While all the isolates could tolerate pH from 2 to 14 (optimum 5–9), 7 isolates tolerated pH 1.5 as well. While all the fungal isolates tolerated salt concentration above 10 %; 10 isolates showed tolerance above 20 %. Based on ITS region (ITS1-5.8S-ITS2) analysis the fungal isolates belonged to 25 different species of Penicillium (showing similarity between 95 and 100 %). Characters like tolerance for low temperature, wide range of pH, and high salt concentration, and enhancement in sporulation and production of secondary metabolites such as watery exudates at low temperature can be attributed to the ecological resilience possessed by these fungi for survival under low temperature environment of mountain ecosystem.


Indian Himalayan region (IHR) Penicillium Polyphasic approach Ecological resilience 



Director, G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora, is gratefully acknowledged for extending the facilities. Dr. Rohit Sharma (NCCS, Pune) is thanked for validating and accessioning the fungal cultures. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India is thanked for financial support. Senior author is thankful to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Govt. of India, New Delhi, for awarding the research fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biotechnological ApplicationsG. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and DevelopmentKosi-Katarmal, AlmoraIndia
  2. 2.Microbial Culture CollectionNational Centre for Cell SciencePuneIndia

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