Molds form characteristic deposits, or mold, on the surface of the soil, plant debris, and various food products – bread, boiled vegetables, fruits. Molds include white mold mucor (about 60 species) and gray mold (250 species).
If the bread is left in a warm, humid place for several days, a white fluffy coating appears on it, which darkens after a while. This is a saprophyte mold fungus.
This mushroom often settles also on fruits, vegetables, horse manure. Its mycelium is one overgrown and branched cell with many nuclei. It permeates the bread and sucks nutrients out of it.
Mucor propagates by scraps of mycelium or spores. At the ends of the mycelium filaments emerging on the surface of the bread, round heads (sporangia) with spores develop. After the spores mature, the heads burst and the spores are carried by the wind. Once in favorable conditions, they germinate and form new mucor myceliums.
Some types of mucor (Chinese mukor) are used in Asian countries as a ferment in the manufacture of food, for example, soy cheese. Mukoric mushrooms are also used to combat insect pests. Mucor often grows on feed, food, causing spoilage – mold. Sometimes mucor causes diseases of animals and humans.
Other molds also settle on food and soil. One of them is penicillus.
The mycelium of penicillus, in contrast to the mycelium of mucor, consists of branching filaments, divided by partitions into cells.
Penicillum spores are not located in the heads, as in mucor, but at the ends of some mycelium filaments in small brushes.
Penicill has been of great help to mankind in the development of medicine. At the beginning of the XX century. scientists have found that disease-causing bacteria are killed in the presence of the green mold – penicillus. Since then, the drug produced from this mushroom – penicillin – has become the most important antibiotic, the use of which has saved millions of lives. It still helps to successfully fight many infectious diseases.
Other valuable medicines are also obtained from molds, which make it possible to fight not only bacteria, but also pathogenic fungi and pathogenic amoebas (parasitic on humans).
Unicellular and mold fungi are of particular importance in soil formation, participating in the mineralization of organic matter and in the formation of humus. They can even process fiber (cellulose cell wall) of plants. The number of such fungi in the soil is huge, so their role in nature is great. They recycle organic matter present in the soil, ensuring its fertility.