|Sir Alexander Fleming receiving the Nobel Prize in 1945|
|The Imperial College team|
It turns out that Flemings isolate is not P. chrysogenum but is a very closely related species which has yet to be named. The species P. chrysogenum is in fact a group of four closely related species.
This discovery highlights that fungi are extremely diverse micro-organisms - as soon as you think you have one categorised several more subgroups are found. It also highlights the importance of understanding this diversity as after Fleming's initial observation many thousands of isolated of P.chrysogenum were analysed for their ability to produce penicillin and only after a lot of work was a suitable isolate found to work on an industrial scale. If they had known then what we know now perhaps that would have been more easily achieved.
For the future our new understanding of fungal biodiversity (including that of Aspergillus) may well lead to new drugs and products.