The Kingdom Fungi is a diverse kingdom consisting of over 1 million species and includes mushrooms, moulds, and yeasts. Fungi obtain their nutrition from the breakdown and decay of organic matter. They can thrive in many places such as soil, plant litter, wood, live plants, dung, animal remains, fungal remains, etc, and play a vital role in the environment as a decomposer of dead-plant matter.
Commonly called mildew, moulds (sometimes referred to as "black mould"), are a subset of fungi that produce fluffy or powdery growth on surfaces. Toxic moulds can grow on cloth, carpets, leather, wood, sheetrock, insulation (and on human foods) when moist conditions exist.
Moulds are found everywhere. The most common form of fungus on earth, and may grow at high levels indoors, in a home or building, if the right environmental conditions exist. Factors that influence the distribution of moulds are most importantly a source of moisture, proper nutrients, temperature, and light.
Carbon containing materials that are abundant both indoors and outdoors may provide the essential nutrients for growth. Sources of moisture, which are usually the limiting and most important factor. They can come from high humidity levels, condensation, and water intrusion due to a number of events such as indoor leaks and floods.
Temperature and light may affect fungal growth, but are usually not a limiting factor since most fungi can grow in light and total darkness.
Excessive exposure to moulds can lead to adverse health issues for humans. The affects of human exposure to mould is not a new, emerging problem but has been manifested for many years. Documentation of mould growth indoors dates years. Documentation of mould growth indoors dates back as far as the Old Testament:
Moulds can cause a variety of reactions in sensitive individuals ranging from allergic responses to neurological damage. Moulds may proliferate in almost any indoor environment where excessive amounts of water and organic matter persist.
The key factor in limiting mould exposure indoors is to prevent its growth through moisture control, maintenance, and proper cleaning methods.
How a Mould Reproduces – It’s Life Cycle:
When the appropriate conditions for growth exist: presence of moisture, nutrients, temperature, etc, the mould begins to reproduce via it’s life cycle.
Hyphae are the thread-like filamentous cells that release enzymes which degrade and absorb nutrients from a substrate (ie. organic debris, cellulose, wood, almost any carbon containing material including human skin). Upon obtaining it’s nutrition, the hyphae will grow into a mycelium, the main body of the fungus, which is also the visible portion.
Spores form on the ends of some hyphael cells. The formation of spores is dependent on a variety of environmental factors including light, oxygen levels, temperature, and nutrient availability.
After the spores are formed, they are released into the air and carried elsewhere to begin the process of germination and growth all over again. Mould spores are highly resistant and durable. They can remain dormant for years in even hot and dry environments.
Once the spore is dispersed to a new area and when the appropriate conditions exist, moisture and nutrient availability, the spore will begin to germinate into a new hyphael cell.