Re: why does mold grow on bread?
Date: Thu Nov 5 22:06:35 1998
Posted By: Evelyn Tsang, Staff, Plant Science, McGill University (Mac Campus)
Area of science: Microbiology
Hello to someone with great observational skills!
You must have noticed fuzzy blue, green and black stuff growing on stale
bread from time to time, eh? This stuff is commonly called mold, and it is
part of the group of living things called
mushrooms and slime molds
are part of this group too). Fungi are a separate kingdom, like the plant
kingdom and the animal kingdom.
Unlike plants, fungi cannot make their own
food. Molds and slimes need to eat off their environment, and they usually
do this by growing THROUGH their food. This means the fungi break down
whatever they're going to eat by squirting out juices to digest it, and
then they grow their HYPHAE (they kinda look like microscopic roots) into
the dissolved food. In the case of bread, it's a nice nutritious food
source for both ourselves, and fungi!
Gram stain of Aspergillus fumigatus hyphae.
Arrows point to septations.
How does mold start growing on bread? The air that surrounds us is full of
dust, (just check behind your couch to see where most of it collects). In
this dust you will find tiny micro-organisms, and fungi will be among them.
The type of fungi found in air is called a SPORE, and it has the same job
as dandelion seeds. A spore will float around until it lands on something
and if that something is food, that spore will germinate and grow into a
nice healthy fungus!
Thanks for your observations and keep on asking questions!
Photo provided by Lynn Bry, M.D./PhD, Dept.
Pathology, Brigham & Women's Hospital.
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