All Moulds are Fungi but Not All Fungi are Moulds

fungi being devoured by mould The accompanying picture was captured at a major food distribution centre and adds “food for thought” revealing that some Fungi are even cannibalistic.

The common Botton mushroom Agaricus Bisporus (a Fungi) is being devoured by a mould that sampling confirmed to be Penicillium (another Fungi). Kingdom Fungi are nature’s decomposers, returning needed nutrients to soil and water through their growth. These ubiquitous microorganisms don’t seem to have found a niche food source they can’t exploit. Everything organic in nature is a potential food source for members of the Kingdom. 

The Kingdom Fungi

The size of Kingdom Fungi is impressive as it includes thousands of different organisms. Everything from mildews, moulds, mushrooms, rusts, smuts and yeasts can be found within the Kingdom. Fungi have found and exploited nearly every organic niche imaginable and can be found in soils, water, air and yes, even on and inside of us.

Over 100,000 species of fungi have been identified to date but estimates of their true numbers can be much higher. Evolution appears to favour these organisms as members within the Kingdom continue to evolve creating new species that have yet to be identified. Short life cycles allow for more rapid genetic adaptation leading to the “birth” of yet-to-be-unidentified moulds. 

Unfortunately, fungal organisms have also been linked to disease due to their allergenic, pathogenic and toxigenic properties. Aspergillus, Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, Chronic sinusitis, eye, ear, nose, throat, and (other) serious respiratory infections to name just a few. While the antibiotic Penicillin has saved many lives and improved the quality of life for those taking the drug created from Penicillium sp.

Are all Moulds Fungi?

Our industry has seen the effect of fungal competition among species when utilizing viable (able to grow) mould air sampling techniques. Cultured samples must be carefully monitored and interpreted since fungal organisms will compete during culturing and may lead to inaccurate data due to competition among species. This has led to less reliance on viable mould air sampling and more reliance on non-viable air sampling or a combination of techniques.

Fungi decompose, they are a food source, and they are used to create other food products. Plus, mushrooms are well… delicious, not very nutritious but delicious nonetheless. So, remember, that while all moulds are indeed fungi, not all fungi are moulds.

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