Truevision Microscopes

Looking at Bread Mold under the Microscope

The study of mold under a microscope allows the student and teacher alike more insight into this interesting growth. Let’s begin a science microscope activity and explore how mold looks. The high power compound microscope is the best for examining the finer details of the mold. However, the use of the low power stereo microscope can be helpful in seeing the overall view and microscopic structure of mold. We will be looking at bread mold for this microscope activity. Molds are those greenish-gray growths that we see on our bread that is left for too long. It is rather easy to obtain (or cultivate) one and high school or elementary students will not have a hard time in bringing one for their science microscope activity or lesson.

To cultivate your own bread mold, all you need to have is a piece of moistened bread and place it under an inverted tumbler. Leave it in a warm place for a couple of days until you see a white, green and black fuzzy growth on its surface. The color can be seen clearly under a low power stereo dissecting microscope. For this type of microscope, you do not need to put any cover slip over the specimen, as the dissecting microscope has a good depth of field. This will allow the student to see the complete growth all in focus.

We take some of this fuzzy growth and place it on a microscope slide, add a drop of water and put on the cover slip. Under a high power compound light microscope, these microscopic growths look like threads that seem to be delicate and spread out thickly over the surface of the bread. The spreading of these microscopic threads gives the mold the appearance like that of a cobweb or wool. These threads are the vegetative body of the mold and are called the mycelium.

If you look closely at the mycelium using our biological compound microscope, you will see that there are stalks that shoot vertically up among the threads. These are the hyphae and at the top of these stalks, you will see small globular bodies that start from the color from white to black. These form the distinctive colors that we can see on the bread mold with the naked eye and even under a stereo dissecting microscope.

These round things contain more than a hundred spores that are released into the air once they reached maturity. The spores are scattered in the air and survive by themselves (through stored food) until they land on a good spot for germination. Upon landing on a favourable spot, the hyphae grow and then follow the mycelium until the cycle continues. This is the reason for the spreading of the mold on the bread.

We will examine the mycelium under the high power compound light microscope. You will notice that each stalk has a thin wall. Inside these walls is a semi-liquid substance that is somewhat granular and with clear spaces and particles that are denser. This sem-liquid substance is the protoplasm. For the protoplasm to have a continued life, the necessary food is absorbed from the bread and through the mycelium. The food is broken down, new protoplasm is formed and this results to another growth of mycelium. The presence of air is very essential for this process because the molds, like plants, needed oxygen in order to grow.

This bread mold that we have examined under the high power compound microscope belongs to a group of molds called the black mold. Those who belong under this group have non-living materials as their food sources. However, there are also molds that are parasitic or live off on living organisms. An example of this is the Empusa muscorum which is a type of mold that feeds on the common house fly. The Empusa muscorum’s spore grows on the body of the fly and the hyphae penetrates the insect’s tissues and feeds off of it until the fly dies. If you see a dead fly surrounded by a whitish dust, then it is probably killed by the hyphae of the mold. You can examine this dust under the microscope and see it yourself.

Learning about the microscopic structure of mold can be very interesting and educational for teachers and students. The students and children can also learn to me more adept in handling high power and low power microscopes.

Truevision Microscopes Product Line
Click Here For Truevision Microscopes Live Chat Support
Truevision Microscopes Assistance
Call our Sales Hotline 1-877-215-3795 or email sales@truevisionmicroscopes.com

We carry all types of high-grade microscopes at competitive prices:
Truevision Microscopes Home Page