By what means do fungi travel? Many fungal colonies begin as spores that are carried on the wind, making them a source of allergies every year. Once they find hospitable environments in which to grow, they settle down. If nutrients are available and the temperature is right, they begin to grow and divide. Eventually, a colony might start forming its own spores that travel to set up new growths.
Examples of fungi are mushrooms, molds, mildews and yeast. Worldwide, there are over one hundred thousand species of fungi. At any given time, trillions of tons of fungi spores fill the air, traveling on the wind toward new places to colonize. Often, spores will settle on food crops such as corn or wheat. Corn smut produces black galls of differing sizes. One gall about one inch in length and width may contain more than 25 billion spores. Released into the atmosphere, these spores may travel great distances, waiting for the perfect conditions to begin growing and multiplying.
Many children through the ages have assisted the puff ball mushroom in the dispersal of spores. Once this species of mushroom matures, a single drop of rain may be all the pressure needed to send trillions of spores traveling through space. The human animal is just one of many animals that aid in the dispersal of fungi. Forest animals spread fungi by eating mushrooms and depositing spores in their feces. Other animals may brush against a mushroom, picking up spores and depositing them along the routes they travel.
Mold and mildew grow in warm, moist, dark areas of homes and other buildings. Bathrooms and basements not well-ventilated are two places mold and mildew are often found. ” There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture,” according to the US Environmental Protection agency. Mold spores are found in inside and outdoor air, but the spores will not grow unless they land someplace with a source of moisture, such as shower stalls, bathtubs and shower curtains. Once a spore begins to grow, a colony of mold will be visible within days.
It is impossible to prevent the dispersal of all mold and mildew. There are many conditions under which mold and mildew spores can live. Air-conditioning drip pans, foundations in low areas, leaky plumbing and high humidity promote the growth of mold spores. “Mildew is a thin, often whitish to bluish-green growth produced by molds on many surfaces. Though molds are always present in the air, those that cause mildew only need moisture and a certain temperature in order to grow,” states Dale Dorman, MS, Extension Housing & Environment Specialist, Department of Housing and Consumer Economics.
Yeast is a type of fungi that can cause infection anywhere on the human body if there is an unchecked overgrowth. Candidiasis is the most common type of yeast infection, with more than 20 species. Examples of yeast overgrowth are vaginal yeast infections, thrush (infection of tissues of the oral cavity), skin and diaper rash. Because fungi spores are in the air, dirt and nearly every surface, including skin, all they need are the right conditions to grow a new colony and disperse more spores when the time is right.
New strains of fungi are being discovered every year. For some strains, it is not known how they are dispersed. With trillions of fungi spores floating in the air and living on animal fur and human skin, as well as in warm, moist places, it is certain that fungi will continue to grow and multiply.