Book : Microorganisms
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Posted by: CHELSEA
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Writer CHELSEA

Molds

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Overview

Molds are probably the best known of the microorganisms. They are widely distributed in nature and grow under a variety of conditions in which air and moisture are present. They are also plants and a part of the fungi family. Nearly everyone has seen mold growth on damp clothing and old shoes. The mold we see with the naked eye is actually a colony of millions of mold cells growing together. Molds vary in appearance. Some are fluffy and filament-like; others are moist and glossy; still others are slimy. Molds are made up of more than one cell. Vegetative cells sustain the organism by taking in food substances for energy and the production of new cell material. Reproductive cells produce small seed cells called spores. Unlike bacterial spores, mold spores are the source of new mold organisms. Bacterial spores generally form only when environmental conditions are unfavorable. Mold cells form a fruiting body. The fruiting body produces the spores, which detach and are carried by air currents and deposited to start new mold colonies whenever conditions are favorable. Mold spores are quite abundant in the air. So any food allowed to stand in the open soon becomes contaminated with mold if adequate moisture is present. Some types of molds are also psychrophiles (grow in cool temperatures) and can cause spoilage of refrigerated foods. Molds are important to the food industry. Among their many contributions are the flavor and color they add to cheeses, and the making of soy sauce. They also play a role in making chemicals such as citric and lactic acid and many enzymes. Molds can also cause problems in foods. Certain kinds can produce poisons called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins have only recently been discovered and little is known about what causes molds to produce them. Probably the best known use of molds is in the drug industry, where they help produce such antibiotics as penicillin.



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