Difference Between Mold and Fungus

Main Difference – Mold vs Fungus

Mold and fungus are two types of organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi. The main difference between mold and fungus is that mold is a multicellular, filamentous fungi whereas fungus is a unicellular or multicellular organism with a chitin cell wall. Fungi include molds, mushrooms, and yeast. A mushroom refers to a macroscopic fruiting body of basidiomycetes or ascomycetes. Yeast are unicellular fungi. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms, containing membrane-bound organelles. Molds produce conidia as their asexual spores. Fungi are typically decomposers that grow on decaying organic matter. They secrete digestive enzymes on the organic matter.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Mold
      – Definition, Characteristics, Importance
2. What is a Fungus
      – Definition, Characteristics, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Mold and Fungi
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Mold and Fungi
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Decomposers, Digestive Enzymes, Fungus, Hyphae, Mold, Mushrooms, Spores, Yeast

Difference Between Mold and Fungus - Comparison Summary

What is a Mold

Mold refers to a large group of fungi, which causes a cottony growth on organic substances. It grows as multicellular filaments called hyphae. Colonies of mold are visible to the naked eye. Mold grows in dark and damp areas. A hyphae of a mold contains multiple, identical nuclei. Molds grow in several shapes in a fuzzy appearance. They can grow in several colors such as green, orange, brown, black, purple or pink. Molds grow on decaying organic matter. They secrete digestive enzymes on the organic matter. Only the simple nutrients are absorbed through the cell wall. A mold growing on mushrooms is shown in figure 1.

Difference Between Mold and Fungus

Figure 1: A Mold Growing on Mushroom

Molds produce both sexual and asexual spores during reproduction. Sexual spores are zygospores, ascospores, and basidiospores. The asexual spores are sporangiospores and conidia. Molds are used in the food production. For example, penicillin is used in the production of cheese. Penicillin is also used in the production of antibiotics as well. However, molds may cause allergic reactions and other respiratory problems as well.

What is a Fungus

A fungus refers to a group of unicellular or multicellular organisms, which feed on organic matter. All fungi belong to the kingdom of Fungi. Fungi are eukaryotes, containing membrane-bound organelles. They are characterized by the presence of filamentous hyphae with a chitin cell wall. Fungi decompose decaying organic matter in order to obtain nutrients. Molds, mushrooms, and yeast are the three morphological types of fungi. Mushrooms are produced by two of the phyla of fungi known as Basidiomycota and Ascomycota. A mushroom or a fruit body is a reproductive structure, which produces sexual spores. These spores can be dispersed either by wind or animals. Some mushrooms are edible by animals. The mushrooms of Armillaria ostoyae (Romagn.) are shown in figure 2.

Main Difference -  Mold vs  Fungus

Figure 2: Armillaria ostoyae (Romagn.) Mushrooms

Yeast is the only type of fungi that lacks the filamentous hyphae. Instead, it has a single, oval-shaped cell. Typically, yeast is colorless. The asexual reproduction of yeast occurs by budding. Most significantly, yeast is used in the baking industry as well as in the production of beverages such as ethanol and beer.

Similarities Between Mold and Fungus

  • Both mold and fungus belong to kingdom Fungi.
  • Both mold and fungus consist of a chitin cell wall.
  • Both mold and fungus are decomposers.
  • Some of the molds and fungi are visible.

Difference Between Mold and Fungus

Definition

Mold: A mold refers to a large group of fungi, which causes a cottony growth on organic substances.

Fungus: A fungus refers to a group of unicellular or multicellular organisms, which feed on organic matter.

Types

Mold: Mold is a type of fungi.

Fungus: Molds, mushrooms, and yeast are the three types of fungi.

Unicellular/Multicellular

Mold: Mold is always multicellular.

Fungus: Fungus like yeast can be unicellular while others are multicellular.

Asexual Reproduction

Mold: Mold produces asexual spores called conidia.

Fungus: Fungus produces various types of asexual spores while yeast asexually reproduces by budding.

Uses

Mold: Mold is used to produce antibiotics.

Fungus: Fungus are used in ethanol production and baking.

Conclusion

Mold and fungus are two types of organisms that belong to the kingdom Fungi. Characteristically, a mold is a filamentous fungus. Other types of fungi can be mushrooms and yeast. The main difference between mold and fungus is the structure of each type of organisms.

Reference:

1.“Mold.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 17 Aug. 2016, Available here.
2.Ahmadjian, Vernon, et al. “Fungus.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 16 Aug. 2017, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Spinellus fusiger 51504″ By user:Anna (sapphyre) – Mushroom Observer (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Armillaria ostoyae MO” By Alan Rockefeller – Mushroom Observer (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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