Soil is rich in pathogenic and non pathogenic keratinophilic fungi including dermatophytes. Most of these fungal species have already been reported as dermatophytes causing infections of skin, scalp, hair, etc. The present study was undertaken to assess the prevalence of dermatophytes and related keratinophilic fungi isolated and characterized from different public park soils in the Gwalior region of India and to evaluate the antifungal potential of selected herbal extracts against seven dermatophytes. Two keratinous fragments, human hair and nails were used for the growth of fungi by the hair-baiting technique. 160 fungal samples were collected and cultured on Sabouraud dextrose agar, containing chloramphenicol and incubated at 25 to 27°C. Isolates were identified on the basis of colony characterization and the morphology of the fungal strains. Eight different fungal species, namely, Trichophyton tonsurans, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton equinum, Microsporum gypseum, Microsporum nanum, Microsporum audouinii and Aspergillus niger were isolated. Out of them, T. mentagrophytes is most common (22%) followed by T. rubrum (16%) and T. equinum(13%) in this region. Evaluation of antifungal activity was carried out with different plant extracts, namely, Punica granatum (Pomegranate), Curcuma longa (Turmeric), Hibiscus rosa sinensis (Gudhal), Vitis vinifera (Grapes), Citrus limon (Lemon), Nerium oleander(kaner), Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera), Trigonella foenum graecum (Methidana) andTrachyspermum ammi (Ajwain) by the well diffusion method. In this assay, extracts from P. granatum and C. longa showed maximum antifungal activity. Therefore, these could be used as an alternative medicine against infections caused by dermatophytes.
Key words: Dermatophytes, keratinophilic fungi, antifungal activity, plant extracts.
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