What is Mucor? (with photos)

Mucor develops into a fluffy, white to gray mold.

Mucor is a genus of fungus within the Zygomycetes fungal class that contains about 40 species. Members of the genus can be found living throughout the world, in a wide variety of environments, from the forest to residential and commercial carpets. Especially in northern Europe, these species are ubiquitous indoors and can contribute to mold allergies in sensitive individuals. Some species cause disease in humans, while others are known plant pathogens.

Mucor often grows on carpets.

Fungi in this genus grow as a white to gray mold that develops into a fluffy mass. Mold can grow on living and dead plants and in the soil. Mucor species are very aggressive and quickly invade an environment and dominate other fungi. Mold grows and spreads quickly, making it difficult for slower-growing fungi to compete. Like other members of the zygomycete class, these fungi can reproduce asexually with spores or sexually by fusing to create zygospores that contain a mixture of genetic material.

Bleach can be one of the cleaning products needed to eradicate mucus.

On magnification, fungi of this genus appear in the form of very fine threads covered by groups of ball-shaped spores. When they dry, the balls rupture, allowing the spores to spread through the natural environment. Spores can also spread through running and dripping water, one of the reasons these species can be such a problem in structures, as the spores hitchhike along leaks and seepage into walls. To eliminate the fungus, it is necessary to use soap, followed by a rinse with bleach, to remove it and completely dry the environment to inhibit the spread of spores and the growth of mold.

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Some species have been linked to allergies and sensitivity to fungi. In some cases, they can cause severe lung discomfort, including difficulty breathing, and, in immunocompromised individuals, the fungi can cause opportunistic infections. They occur when spores are ingested or inhaled, and mold can quickly spread through the body, causing a variety of health problems. Antifungal medications can be used to treat Mucor infection, although some species can be very stubborn.

Many species cannot tolerate human body temperature. Only a few species are heat tolerant enough to survive in the human body, which may explain why the genus no longer causes infections. One species, M. piriformis , is famous for causing Mucor rot, a plant disease, and several species produce enzymes that can be used in cheese making, illustrating the diversity of this fungal genus.

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