Fungal Volatile Organic Compounds: More Than Just a Funky Smell?

Arati A. Inamdar, Shannon Morath, Joan W. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with industry cause adverse health effects, but less is known about the physiological effects of biologically produced volatiles. This review focuses on the VOCs emitted by fungi, which often have characteristic moldy or "mushroomy"odors. One of the most common fungal VOCs, 1-octen-3-ol, is a semiochemical for many arthropod species and also serves as a developmental hormone for several fungal groups. Other fungal VOCs are flavor components of foods and spirits or are assayed in indirect methods for detecting the presence of mold in stored agricultural produce and water-damaged buildings. Fungal VOCs function as antibiotics as well as defense and plant-growth-promoting agents and have been implicated in a controversial medical condition known as sick building syndrome. In this review, we draw attention to the ubiquity, diversity, and toxicological significance of fungal VOCs as well as some of their ecological roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-116
Number of pages16
JournalAnnual Review of Microbiology
StatePublished - Sep 8 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology


  • 1-octen-3-ol
  • Aroma chemistry
  • VOC
  • fungal volatile organic compounds
  • mycofumigation
  • semiochemical
  • sick building syndrome

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