Uses Of Molds In Food And Medicine Production

ID-10074274A large and taxonomically diverse number of fungal species are collectively called molds (US) or moulds (British/UK). Molds when grows on any object such as foods cause moldy appearance and it becomes discolored. Molds are multi-cellular (in compare to yeasts, which are uni-cellular or single cell) and grows in filaments called hyphae. Molds are responsible for biodegradation of natural materials.

Molds have several uses for humans, such as for production of various food items and for production of several medicines/drugs. Molds can cause health hazards too, if they grow in large numbers in your house/building or workplace.

Use of molds for medicine production:

We all know about discovery of antibiotic penicillin by Alexander Fleming from a fungus penicillium notatum, which is a mold. There are several species of molds which are used for production of penicillin such as penicillium crysogenum, penicillium rubens etc. There are several other drugs/medications which are produced from mold such as statin group of medicines (such as lovastatin from Aspergillus terreus) which are used for lowering blood cholesterol level and very commonly used medicines. Immune suppressant medicine cyclosporine (this is used for suppressing immunity after organ transplantation, so that body do not reject the transplanted organ such as kidney), is produced from a mold known as tolypocladium inflatum.

Use of molds in food production:

Molds are commonly used for food production, throughout the world in various methods. Molds are being used for centuries for producing various foods in many countries across the globe. Molds are used for fermenting soybeans and wheat to produce soybean paste and soy sauce. Molds are used for breaking down starch fond in rice, barley, sweet potato etc. to produce spirit/alcohol, a process known as saccharification.

Molds are also used for production of various types of foods, for example:

  • Mold geotrichum candidum and some penicillium spp. used for production of cheese.
  • ¬†Mold ustilago maydis used for prodcing tortilla based foods.
  • Rhizomucor spp. used for making vegetarian cheese.
  • Many types of molds are used as flavoring agents.
  • Yeasts and molds are used for many other food preparations to add softness and to add special taste to various foods.

“Image courtesy of¬†moomsabuy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

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