Whether you are bringing soil in from your own property or are buying potting soil, you should know about the types of mould that occur in soil and the various effects they can have, both on plant growth and on human health. Plant moulds come in many varieties.
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Mucor is a plant mould found in a variety of habitats, including soil, hay and manure, although it can also be found inside (in house dust, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and carpets). This mould grows quickly and is known to contaminate certain type of stored food (such as vegetables) and may be a cause of the disease zygomycosis. Mucor typically appears as white or greyish.
Fusarium is a plant mould that should be avoided at all costs, as it is known to severely damage human health. It produces the toxin trichothecene, which can damage the circulatory and nervous systems. It can also cause a wide variety of other physical reactions, including nausea; eye, skin and nail infections; and haemorrhages. It causes a number of problems in plants, such as stem rot, root rot and vascular wilt. It is found in a wide variety of soils and on several types of commodity crops, including rice, beans and soybeans.
Memnoniella is a soil mould known to be dangerous to humans, as it produces highly toxic griseofulvins. It is found in many places, including soil, paper, wallpaper and textiles.
Teleomorph is a soil mould that is also found in such places as wood, fruit, grain, paper and food, including meat and dairy products. This is a potentially deadly variety of mould, as it can allow arsenic gases to escape, possibly leading to arsenic poisoning, and it has been connected to several cases of invasive human infections.
Although common to most people because of its frequent presence on food, penicillin can also be commonly found in soil. This soil mould can cause a number of allergic reactions in humans, including asthma and pneumonitis; infections caused by penicillin frequently occur in individuals whose immune systems do not function effectively. However, penicillin is also widely used in the treatment of various infections as well as in the processing of various food products.
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