Friday, 8 December 2017

All About ... Moulds

Like bacteria, moulds can be good, providing antibiotics, or bad, producing disease and spoiling food.  The size of moulds means that individually they cannot be seen by the human eye until there are many formed close together.  Most moulds need a temperature of over 4°C to grow (this is why we refrigerate food), however, many can remain dormant until  there are suitable conditions.  Their ability to survive extreme temperatures varies from mould to mould!

The cells of mould are arranged in threads which then form into a tangled mess - a mycelium!  Each cell has a nucleus with chromosomes.  Moulds produce large number of spores (for reproduction) and some types can then be dispersed by the wind. Moulds can be fungal and non-fungal.  

Non-fungal moulds can be:

Slime moulds: these are further split into plasmoidal or cellular.  Plasmoidal slime moulds are thin masses of protoplasm which creeps along moist leaves and rotting logs.  These moulds engulf their food particles.  Cellular slime moulds can sometimes group together to look like plasmoidal but are usually separate cells.

Water moulds: this group includes rust and mildew.  Some of the worst plant diseases are caused by water moulds including potato blight and soft rot.

Bacterial moulds: eg: Streptomyces griseus which secretes the antibiotic streptomycin

Fungal moulds include Penicillium which produces penicillin, one of the most widely used antiobiotics.  An effective antibiotic, it unfortunately only works on a small number of bacteria and resistance is increasing :(

Chesney is allergic to Penicillin, he had a very scary reaction to it when he was young and so we don't dare give it to him anymore.

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Until next time!

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