Mold is a type of fungus that grows in multicellular filaments called hyphae. These tubular branches have multiple, genetically identical nuclei, yet form a single organism, known as a colony. In contrast, yeast is a type of fungus that grows as a single cell.

Comparison chart

Mold versus Yeast comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartMoldYeast
Habitat Typically found in damp, dark or steam-filled areas. Very common. Can be found on fruit and berries, in the stomachs of mammals and on skin, among other places.
Reproduction Reproduce through small spores, which can be either sexual or asexual. Most reproduce asexually through mitosis. Most common form called “budding.”
Definition Mold is a fungi that contains multiple identical nuclei. It grows in the form of hyphae of filaments. A type of fungi that contains only a single cell.
Appearance Mold has a fuzzy appearance and can be an orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple in color. Can be found in several shapes. White and thready. Usually oval in shape.
Uses Some molds are used in food production, for example, Penicillium is used in the production of cheese, Neurospora in the production of oncom, which is made from the by-product of tofu. Ethanol production, baking, vitamin supplements, study of cell cycle.
Energy Production Secrete hydrolytic enzymes that degrade biopolymers such as starch, cellulose and lignin into simpler substances that can be absorbed. Convert carbohydrates to alcohol and carbon dioxide in anaerobic through fermentation. Also obtain carbon from hexose sugars.
Health Hazards Can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems Can cause infection in individuals with compromised immune systems.
Species 1000s of known species, including penicillium. 1500 known species – 1% of all fungi.
Nature looks back at us; A peach with mold staining
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Nature looks back at us; A peach with mold staining

Energy Production

Molds secrete hydrolytic enzymes, usually from hyphal tips, that degrade biopolymers such as starch, cellulose and lignin into simper substances that can be absorbed. This plays a role in the decomposition of organic material.

Yeasts can produce energy aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen). In anaerobic respiration, yeasts convert carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols to produce energy. Yeasts also obtain carbon from hexose sugars.

Reproduction

Molds reproduce by producing small spores, which can be either sexual (reproducing using meiosis) or asexual (reproducing using mitosis).

Most yeasts reproduce asexually. The most common process is known as “budding,” when a small bud forms on the parent cell. The parent nucleus splits in two and the daughter nucleus moves into the bud cell, which continues to grow until it splits from the parent cell.

Air bubbles formed while baking bread with Yeast
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Air bubbles formed while baking bread with Yeast

Uses

Molds are often used in the production of food and drinks, such as soy sauce, sake, quorn, cheese, rennet and salami. They are also used in antibiotics such as penicillin, cholestoral-lowering drugs such as Lovastatin, and immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine.

Yeasts are used for producing ethanol for alcoholic beverages such as beer, as leavening agents in baking, and as a nutritional supplement for vegans. Their simple cellular structure also makes them valuable resources for geneticists, and they are used to study processes such as the cell cycle, DNA replication and recombination.

Health Risks

Certain types of mold can be hazardous to human health in large quantities and can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Some molds also produce mycotoxins, which pose a serious risk to humans and animals. Symptoms of mold allergies include Symptoms of a mold allergy are watery, itchy eyes, chronic coug, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, tiredness, rashes, sinus problems, nasal blockage, and frequent sneezing.

Yeasts can cause infection in people with compromised immune systems. They can cause the disease cryptococcossis, which is found in 7-9% of AID patients in the US. The yeast candida can also cause candidiasis in humans.

Video explaining the differences

Here's a good video that talks about the different types of Fungi: Mold, Yeast and Mushrooms and their benefits and health hazards:

References

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