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Bread Mold Facts

Bread Mold Facts

That bread often develops mold is not an uncommon fact. Mold means that the bread has spoiled and is no longer fit for consumption. Why does this come about? The explanation for the same and more bread mold facts will follow in this article.
BiologyWise Staff
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Bread mold = The icky stuff that grows on the bread and kills it.

Absolutely. Bread mold destroys the bread, making it inedible. It is definitely not appetizing to consume something that looks black/grayish/greenish and has molds and bumps all around it. Not forgetting the fact that it is extremely furry in nature. Bread mold is a kind of fungus that grows on the surface of the bread. The bread mold fungus draws nutrients from the bread for its survival and destroys the bread in the process. Let us learn some more bread mold facts in the following section.

Physical Attributes
Since mold is a fungus, it is made of many cells (unlike bacteria which is single-celled). They have an appearance like that of shiny mushrooms which can be seen under the microscope. Though, some molds can be observed with the naked eye as well. Several molds have a body which may consist of root threads which will then penetrate the food that they rest on, they might even form a stalk which rises above the food or produce spores which are formed at the end of the stalk.

How it Grows
Since mold is a fungus, it cannot produce its own food like plants can -- the reason being that fungus is an organism that has no chlorophyll, and without chlorophyll, it cannot absorb the energy from the sun and thereby produce its own food. Which is why it lives off plants and animals.

The reproductive bodies of these organisms (spores) float around in the air until they can land onto a place that they can grow on (they can also be transported through water and insects). The most optimum condition for bread mold growth is that on warm and moist surfaces like bread. When they land on such a surface, they break down the cell walls with the help of digestive enzymes and acids.

Once they are attached to the organic material, they begin to grow at a rapid pace, infecting the bread further and sending more spores into the air. Each spore is divided into two branches. One, which is longer and black (spores), and the other which is shorter, and penetrates the bread to absorb the food. It is not merely the surface that the spores attack. When one can observe mold on the surface of the food, it means that the mold has already gone in deep and has attacked the food from within. This means that the food has become toxic and poisonous.

Where it Grows
Even though the topic that we discuss today is that of the kind of mold which is formed on bread, it is interesting to know some other surfaces that the mold grows on as well. Other than bread, mold also grows on meats, shoes, clothes, vegetables and books. Thus proving that what it needs for growth are warm and moist conditions.

Types of Bread Molds
There are several bread mold species and types. They also come in varied colors and shapes. Some of these are - Aspergillus, Monascus, Rhizopus, Penicillium, Fusarium and Monascus. Each of these species has its own color. The Rhizopus is black and fuzzy, while the Aspergillus is finer in texture. The Penicillium species is more grayish-green, has a white border to it and is fuzzy in appearance.

Health Risks
When we come in contact with molds, we ingest substances known as mycotoxins (through our skin, mucous, and airways), which are produced by the bread mold. These are very dangerous for our health. Once inside, they can spread and affect the immune system severely. These lead to health conditions like allergies, hypersensitivity, respiratory problems (asthma, wheezing, coughing); and some other severe ones like those of memory loss, depression, anxiety and reproductive problems among several others.

Benefits of Bread Mold

'How can something that looks like that have any benefits?' is what you're thinking, right? Ah well, it does. Many in fact, here are some of them.
  • Molds are commonly used in the production of certain foods like cheese, sausages, bread, soy sauce and others.
  • In combination with certain foods (and a good lifestyle to supplement it), cultured bread mold can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body.
  • It is used in the production of several drugs. Notably, the Penicillium chrysogenum mold that is used in the production of the antibiotic penicillin.
  • Similarly, there are some other types of molds that are used for the production of medicines as well. (Aspergillus terreus for cholesterol lowering drugs and Tolypocladium Inflatum for combating the rejection of transplanted organs)
So unless you are a scientist who specifically alters the molds to produce medicines, I'd say just stay away from the same.

Hopefully, the bread mold facts mentioned above will have helped you understand a little something more about this form of mold and its varied attributes.