The Basics Of Mold
March 28th, 2017
Mold is actually a kind of umbrella term for all species of microscopic fungi. These fungi grow in the form of multicelluar filaments known as hyphae. Molds are found naturally in nature and can even be found both outside and inside your house. So far, nobody has been able to come up with a definite number of mold species that are in existence, but estimates range from around 3,000 all the way up to the tens of thousands – but nobody knows for sure.
Where Does Mold Grow?
Molds are a fungus, and like all fungi, they likes to grow in most, damp places that are often extremely humid. However, there are some types of mold that are extremely adaptable and can survive in harsh conditions where nobody would even think to look for it. Molds are even known to go into a type of hibernation when the conditions around it are not optimal for growth.
Unlike plants like grass or leaves, mold gets its energy not from photosynthesis but from organic matter. Basically, molds are excellent at breaking down natural organic matter and turning it into food. That’s why mold is considered an invaluable part of decomposition – it helps break down matter so it can then be recycled naturally.
In addition to what molds can do in nature, people have also discovered that molds can aid in the production of different foods as well. Foods like cheese, sausages, soy sauce and tempeh are all made with types of cultured mold! And molds are even used in some drugs. Alexander Flemming discovered penicillin thanks to the mold known as penicillium chrysogenum. A few cholesterol-lowering drugs are derived from molds and even an autoimmune drug called cyclosporine is derived from a type of mold.
However, while molds are present everywhere in nature, molds that grow indoors can pose a serious health risk for anyone else living in the vicinity. Small amounts of mold do not cause issues, but larger amounts can cause significant health problems because they produce mycotoxins. A high amount of exposure to mycotoxins can lead to either neurological problems or death. Toxic mold refers to molds that produce those deadly toxins. Mold can also cause damage to structures as well so it must be kept out of the house at all costs.
It’s Not All Bad
Without mold, organisms would decay slower; we wouldn’t have some of our best antiobotics; and we would even be missing out on some of our greatest foods! While it’s true that mold can cause health problems, it is in fact invaluable to the world.