Topic 1 Moulds

Moulds are multicellular microscopic fungi living in animal or plant subtracts and play a critical role in the decomposition of dead plants and animals. Most are filamentous and produce spores that can be spread in air and water or by insects.

An illustration of a bread mold and its associated sporangiophores. (Picture obtained from Imagination Station)

Molds dispersal

Pilobolus, also called hat-thrower fungus, are known for their explosive spore dispersal up to 3 m away and can reach speeds of up to 90 km/h

Molds can cause allergies, and others may produce mycotoxins, a disease-causing metabolite. Moulds that produce toxic mycotoxins can grow on numerous human and animal foodstuffs such as cereals, dried fruits, nuts and spices, but are also known to be on celery, grape juice, apples, and other products.

However, moulds can also produce natural compounds with a biological activity. These metabolites have a wide range of therapeutic applications, including penicillin (produced by Penicillium notatum), which was the first antibiotic to be discovered and one of the most commonly used (Demain & Martens, 2017).

Air dispersal of mold spores

Chains of spores of Conidia are dispersed from a growing colony of mold

Source: Department of Plant Pathology Uni. Kiel

Dispersal of mold ascospores

Source: Department of Plant Pathology Uni. Kiel

Environmental conditions for mould growth:

  • Badly ventilated
  • High moisture
  • Damp
  • Low light
  • the softer the food, the quicker the chances it can grow mould

Moulds are everywhere, but they need the right environment to settle and grow