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Most of us are aware of the green film which develops on stale and degenerated food. It is nothing but mold at work. Similarly, mildew, a kind of fungus, targets the surfaces like leather, paper and places where the moisture content is very high. It is also called powdery mildew. Apart from this, there are many characteristics which make them similar as well as set them apart.

Mold
Black Molds, basically, a type of fungus, grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. These belong to the kingdom of microscopic fungi. The tubular branching hyphae has multiple, identical nuclei, and has a connected network. It is considered to be a single organism. Now, molds cannot be found in a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping. However, it could be found in the divisions Zygomycota, Deuteromycota, and Ascomycota. Most of us know the characteristic of mold causing food spoilage, but there are molds which play an important role in bio degradation or for producing various foodstuffs, beverages, enzymes, and antibiotics. Molds derive energy not from photosynthesis, but from the organism they dwell in. What's more, interestingly, molds may also give away mycotoxins, which in tandem with hydrolytic enzymes disrupt and prevent the growth of competing micro organisms.

Uses
Medicinal uses of mold involve its role as a constituent in penicillin, in cholesterol lowering drugs like Lovastatin (derived from mold), and in cyclosporine, (again derived from a type of mold) which is an immunosuppressant drug used to suppress rejection of an organ which is transplanted. A few other types of mold contribute to the production of gluconic acid and citric acid. This particular mold is called Aspergillus Niger.

Types
A few common types of molds are :
  • Acremonium
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Fusarium
  • Mucor
  • Penicillium
  • Trichoderma
Mildew
In old English, this term meant honeydew. Later on, it came to be known mildew in its contemporary sense. Primarily mildew is also a type of fungus - a type of mold and scientifically it is called powdery mildew. Mildew has a flat growth pattern and mostly thrives on surfaces, where the moisture content is very high. Window sills, paper, leather, ceilings, walls, and floors of home with moisture management glitches are more prone to mildew. Most species of mildew are particular to a narrow host range. Moreover, most of them are obligate parasites of flowering plants. Dowry mildew is another plant associated mildew. There are also a few species of mildew, which can thrive in conditions which are non airy. Dowry mildew appears as yellow spots on leaves or fruits. It grows on a single cell or spore.

Mold Vs. Mildew: A Comparison
  • Primarily both of them are a kind of fungus.
  • While mildew is powdery and targets plants, mold is typically black or green in appearance, and attacks aging, stale or rotting foodstuffs. In fact, mildew is a type of mold.
  • Mold and mildew both spread from spores.
  • Mold survives on non-living materials - tile, plastic, etc. On the other hand, mildew thrives on products made out of animals and plants prevalent in tropical regions. It can be disastrous for crops.
  • Both of them, however, love moisture, and cannot resist surfaces where there is moisture.
  • Mildew can destroy books and clothes. Whereas even if mold has both the ill effects, it has scientific and culinary uses as well.
  • Molds also help in fertilization of soil by breaking up waste and dead matter. Molds or rather a few types of fungus play a significant role in production of a few medicines. On the contrary, mildew does not have any such use.
  • Mildew and mold can aggravate problems like asthma and allergy, but mold typically causes weariness.
  • Some molds could grow on plants, but mildew only grows on plants.
  • Molds are used in the production of various foods, as mentioned, like cheese, bread, sausages, soya sauce, tempeh, and a few other things. Mildew is not used for this purpose.
All said and done, both of them are unwanted things and need to be removed as soon as possible. Do not let these types of fungus infest your food or home! Keep fungus prone places dry, to ensure fungus-free surfaces.