Bread Does Grow Mold

Does bread grow mold? If you have ever found those last two pieces of leftover bread way back in the cabinet, you already know the answer. Many elementary school children have passed project day with an experiment in bread mold.

How does mold start growing on bread? The air that surrounds us is full of dust, (just check behind your couch to see where most of it collects). In this dust you will find tiny micro-organisms, and fungi will be among them. The type of fungi found in air is called a SPORE, and it has the same job as dandelion seeds. A spore will float around until it lands on something and if that something is food, that spore will germinate and grow into a nice healthy fungus!

Molds are fungi. Fungi are coenocytic organisms composed of masses of tubes or filaments, called hyphae. Fungi are heterotrophic, they do not prfoduce their own food like plants (phototrophs). They must get their food from their environment. They get their food by secreting digestive enzymes to dissolve organic and inorganic food materials. They then absorb the soluble products from digestion.

There are tens of thousands of different kinds of fungi and they grow in a rainbow of colors. Some fungi are used to make dye, but that is a different subject! Other fungi are yeasts and mushrooms, but 'mold' generally refers to multicellular, filamentous fungi that do not produce large macroscopic fruiting bodies like mushrooms. Yeasts are most often single cell organisms, although there are filamentous yeasts. People who study fungi are 'mycologists'. There is almost nothing on earth that fungi won't eat. Which is fortunate for us because we would soon be buried in waste without fungi to decompose it. There are even fungi that can 'eat' toxic waste from the soil and turn it into harmless byproducts. Fungi can be picky about what they eat as well. There is a fungus that only grows on blond hair of boy babies. There is a fungus that only grows on the left hind leg of houseflies. There are fungi found only in the rear gut of millepedes.

Growing bread mold is not hard to do. You can use a slice of bread that has been rubbed along the floor or other dusty surface, and give it a couple of squirts of water from a spray bottle to moisten it. Place the bread in a sealed bag and leave it in a dark place for a few days. You will find that you are able to grow your own bread mold garden with relative ease and in a fairly short period of time. It’s a great way to bring science into your home for your kids!