Identification of toxic mold species through Raman spectroscopy of fungal conidia.
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We use a 785 nm shifted excitation Raman difference (SERDS) technique to measure the Raman spectra of the conidia of 10 mold species of especial toxicological, medical, and industrial importance, including Stachybotrys chartarum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus oryzae, Aspergillus niger, and others. We find that both the pure Raman and fluorescence signals support the hypothesis that for an excitation wavelength of 785 nm the Raman signal originates from the melanin pigments bound within the cell wall of the conidium. In addition, the major features of the pure Raman spectra group into profiles that we hypothesize may be due to differences in the complex melanin biosynthesis pathways. We then combine the Raman spectral data with neural network models to predict species classification with an accuracy above 99%. Finally, the Raman spectral data of all species investigated is made freely available for download and use.