Moulds are plants but not green plants. They don’t have the green pigment chlorophyll and so cannot produce their own food. They belong to a very large group of plants called FUNGI. The same group that our mushrooms and toadstools belong to. But Moulds are very, very tiny and their bodies are made up of thin white threads like cotton.
They reproduce in the same way as mushrooms and toadstools by producing black spores. When these land on a suitable food source they put out hyphae which grow into the food. These spores are in the air everywhere and we can’t get away from them. Even when you seal food in a plastic bag or an airtight container there will already be spores on the food so it will go bad. How quickly depends on the temperature. That’s something you can investigate!
They get their food by secreting enzymes that break down whatever they are growing on which is often our food ! Then the digested food is absorbed by the hyphae.
So. We know that Moulds make food go bad and that is very annoying! Do Moulds have any uses?
Well yes! We would be in a mess without them! Literally !
Like all Fungi, Moulds help to break down (decompose ) dead animals and plants and any odd bits of food that careless people have left lying around. They are very active in compost heaps. While breaking down the dead plants and animals they release nitrogen carbon and oxygen back into the atmosphere.
There is also one very important mould from which we obtain the antibiotic Penicillin. To learn more about this click on this link:
Do you like cheese? Well, we wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for Moulds !! Check that out here:
BLUE STILTON CHEESE PRODUCTION
Things for you to do:
Please remember that you must always check with an adult before doing any investigations and before looking anything up on the Internet. Mould spores are a risk to health so never smell Moulds! The Mould garden should be disposed of without removing the lid.
1. Grow a mould garden : see the JUMBLES DOING THIS HERE:
2. Find out how temperature affects the growth of mould.
To do this you will need 4 plastic bags . The type that seal with little zips are best. Four similar items of food, for example four slices of bread from the same loaf.
All you need to do is sprinkle each slice of bread with just a tiny bit of water. Half a teaspoon is sufficient. Then seal in the bags. Put one in the freezer. One in the fridge and one should be left out in a cool room. He last one should be placed somewhere warm like on a sunny window ledge.
First predict what you think will happen.
Then check very couple of days and record your results.
At the end draw your conclusions. What happened ? Why do you think this happened?
3. If you would like to see a speeded up video of Moulds growing and reproducing click on this link: