General Characteristics of Molds

Molds are very common organisms that grow on food materials to spoil the foods and can be easily be identified.

What are Molds

Molds are one type of micro organisms and they grow on food materials like bread, fruits, vegtables, jam/jelly etc. They spoil the foods and make them unfit to eat. But molds are also useful in preparation of some foods like cheese and some oriental foods. Molds are certain multicellular, filamentous fungi whose growth can be easily recognised by it's cottony appearance.

Morphological Characteristics

Morphology means form and structure of molds is determined by a microscope. The molds consist of a mass of filaments called Hyphae and mass of these Hyphae is known as Mycelium. Hyphae may be classified as vegetative (growing part) or fertile (production/reproduction) part. The hyphae of most molds are clear but some are dark or smoky.

By the microscopic examination, gnera of molds can be identified by the characteristics seen. Molds are divided into Septate (with cross walls) and Non Septate (without cross walls).

Reproduction of molds are chiefly by asexual spores. The molds which form sexual spores are termed as perfect. The 'Fungi Imperfecti' (Septate) have only asexual spore. The Non Septate perfect mold are Oomycetes and Zygomycetes, The Septate perfect molds are Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes.

Cultural Characteristics

Some molds look velvety on the upper surface, some look dry and powdery, and some wet or gelatinous. Some molds are loose and fluffy and some are compact. The appearance of the molds indicates its genus.

Physiological Characteristics

Temperature requirement - Most molds grow well at ordinary temperature. A number of molds grow well at refrigeration temperatures. A few can grow at a high temperature.

Moisture requirement - Molds require less moisture to grow than yeast and bacteria. If dried food has a moisture content below 14 to 15%, it will prevent or delay mold growth.

Oxygen Requirement - Molds are aerobic, so they require oxygen for their growth.

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