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Is Mould a Fungus or a Bacteria?

mould growing on lemon

We know a lot about mould: what it looks like, what it smells like, where to find it and how rapidly it can spread. But do we know its origins in the ecosystem? Is it a fungus or a bacteria? Let’s discuss.  

Is Mould a Fungus or a Bacteria?  

Mould is a type of fungus, not a bacteria. Although it is easy to confuse the two – they are both living microorganisms that form colonies to spread through contact and humid environments.  

 Mould and bacteria are members of different kingdoms in nomenclature (the scientific classification of different organisms). The mould we notice spread through bathroom tiles, food and dark wardrobes may be one of many hundreds of thousands of strains of the Fungi kingdom. Bacteria, on the other hand, is classified under the Monera kingdom.  

 The difference between the two is simple: their cellular make-up. Bacteria are known to be prokaryotic, so they don’t have a distinct nucleus because they lack internal membranes. As a group of unicellular microorganisms, bacteria can only be visible under a microscope. Fungi, however, are known as eukaryotic, meaning their cells have a distinct nucleus and are complex microorganisms.  

What is Pink Mould?  

 Pink mould or Serratia Marcescens is the exception to the rule and is technically a classification of bacteria (despite being referred to as mould). It will usually grow as a result of soap build-up and leftover shampoo residue left in the shower, baths or areas where there is a high level of fatty substances. 

 There are several kinds of pink mould in existence, with Serratia Marcescens being the most common. Other types of pink mould include Aureobasidium Pullulans, which is usually found in organic matter such as wood and window frames but is also found in bathrooms. It can present as light pink before maturing to a darker brown, black or grey. Fusarium, on the other hand, is quite rare and not usually found within the home. If it is, it will most likely appear in plant materials, wallpapers or carpets.  

 Areas around the bathroom that are not regularly cleaned or dried out are at risk of developing pink mould – areas with large amounts of soap and scum is a perfect breeding ground. It’s important to regularly clean and air out the bathroom to prevent pink mould from growing. If left untreated, it can turn into a health hazard and become extremely difficult to remove.  

How Does Mould Grow?  

 As a type of fungi, mould requires moisture to grow and survive. Mould will release enzymes and absorb any moisture or nutrients to continue to reproduce. While mould is commonly favourable to warm, humid environments, different species can survive in a variety of temperatures, with some preferring colder environments.  

 It only takes a single spore to land on any organic surface or where there is moisture. This may include any biodegradable matter, including high cellulose materials, wood, or paper. When the spores begin to absorb the moisture, it begins to grow and form a thread-like structure known as hyphae. This is what we see spreading and growing across surfaces, once this occurs, it will begin to rapidly reproduce.  

 Many mould strains also release airborne spores that can easily circulate the house. The spores are attracted to damp, dark or wet areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, wardrobes and wooden window frames.  

How To Prevent Mould 

 Because mould best grows in dark, moist and poorly ventilated areas, the most effective way to combat it is to control moisture levels and improve air quality around the home. Here are some useful ways to prevent mould:  

 Invite airflow into the home: Fresh, regular airflow is a great way to let moisture and any stale air escape. Ceiling fans, stand-alone fans and opening windows all help protect against mould.  

Use exhaust fans and ventilate: Ventilating bathroom and kitchen areas prevent moisture build-up from occurring. Because these areas are prone to high moisture and humidity levels, using exhaust fans when showering or cooking can help circulate the air and keep the moisture from settling.  

 Use a dehumidifier: During warmer seasons and highly humid climates, dehumidifiers help to control moisture in the air. If you use an air-conditioner, make sure you set it to ‘dry mode’.  

 Dry Wet Clothes: Avoid leaving wet clothes on the floor or in the washing machine for more than a few hours. Dry clothes either outside, in the dryer or a well-ventilated area in the house.  

 Clean and dry spills immediately: Mould can begin to grow within a day, so it’s important to keep areas of the house dry. Spills, water damage and leaks should be cleaned as soon as possible. Some mould removal services also take care of structural drying and water damage for your convenience.  

Clean carpets regularly: regularly vacuum and clean the carpets to prevent mould from attaching itself to dust and carpet fibres. You may also need to professionally clean carpets from time to time.  

When to Call a Mould Removal Professional 

 If you are afraid of mould becoming a problem in your home and are looking for a long-term solution, be sure to call upon a professional team to help you. The MouldMen team will inspect, treat and provide you with a Mould Management and Prevention Plan to ensure that your home is kept safe and free from mould. Call us on 1300 60 59 60 to book your free inspection today.

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