For the most part, in our homes mold is unwelcomed, and we all do what we can to avoid, prevent, and treat this potentially dangerous material. We all know the negative effects of mold in our home, but do we know some of its benefits? If we take a look outside, and even at some things indoors, we can see how mold is not always what it seems. Understanding mold; the negative effects and all the interesting facts of its practical uses, gives us insight and awareness to this and similar types of fungi.
When the leaves fall off the trees, you may have to collect and dispose them or you may just keep them in piles around your yard. Over time, these piles will become smaller, eventually dispersing entirely. Mold plays a big part in breaking down dead leaves. Piles of leave retain moisture in the air like a sponge, making a nice home for mold to flourish. The same process happens with decomposing food. To transfer itself from place to place, mold reproduces in the form of spore that are carried through the air. These spores look for wet places to settle on and new mold is formed in a damp dark place.
Mold is a fungus, which sounds daunting, but what may even be more daunting are the places you can find them, like your own refrigerator. Some cheeses, like Brie, are aged to cause the inside to become soft and ripe. When this aging process happens, the exterior of the cheese develops a tacky like flexible crust called Penicillium–which is mold. Penicillin, which is derived from Penicillium acts as an antibiotic, a ground breaking revelation which was used to prevent syphilis and many other infections.
Because there are some molds that are good, we can use this information to determine how different species of the same family can affect humans and their health. Science is able to determine the benefits of some mold, the negative effects of others, how they can be utilized to our advantage, and how they are essential in the cycle of nature.