What Is Hiding in the Israeli Mediterranean Seawater and Beach Sand

Michael Frenkel, Hanan Serhan, Shlomo E. Blum, Marcelo Fleker, Edward Sionov, Sharon Amit, Zeela Gazit, Shiraz Gefen-Halevi, Esther Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In the present study, we aimed to investigate the presence of fungi that may affect human health in sand and water on Israeli Mediterranean Sea coast beaches. Methods: The study included screening of the sand and water of six urban beaches from north to south on the Israeli Mediterranean coast. Sand samples were extracted with water, and the water wash was cultured and quantitated. Water samples were quantitated as well. MALDI-TOF MS analysis and ITS sequencing identified the fungi. Results: The study considered several parameters: 1. Presence of fecal-contamination-related fungi; 2. Presence of dermal-infection-related fungi. 3. Presence of allergy-related fungi; 4. Presence of fungi posing risk for immunocompromised individuals. The screen revealed that about 80% of the isolates were molds and about 20% yeasts. The mold species included opportunistic pathogens and potential allergens: Aspergillus fumigatus and other Aspergillus species, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Mucorales species. Yeast isolates included Candida—including the human commensals Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis—Cryptococcus, and Rhodotorula species. Conclusions: The results suggest that beaches should be monitored for fungi for safer use, better management, and the benefit of public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number950
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • beach sand
  • fungi
  • seawater


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