Bread mould is a fungus, which feeds from a variety of organic materials. As soon as the right conditions are present, mould spores in the air that attach to the bread can grow into the living fungus that we see on mouldy bread. Bread mould provides several options for a science fair project.
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Mold spores can be present anywhere and only need the right conditions to transform into fungus. To prove this, collect dust on the end of a cotton swab. Rub the end on a slice of bread and then drop five drops of water onto the slice. Place the bread into a zipper bag and seal it. Place the sealed bag into an empty, but not cleaned milk carton and seal it. Check the bread after a couple of days. It will contain various colours and textures of moulds. Make note of any difference in the mould present on the soiled portions of the bread and the areas where you did not touch with the cotton swab.
Mold needs moisture and warmth to grow. Determine how different temperatures affect bread mould growth. Mark five zipper bags as A, five as B, and five more as C. If you can get mould spores, coat each slice with the spores. If you cannot get mould spores, the mould will still form, but it will take longer. Place a slice of bread into each bag and place the A bags into the freezer, the B bags in the refrigerator, and the C bags in a warm room. After 24 hours, check the bread but do not open the bags. Measure the square centimetres of mould on each slice. Continue checking and recording daily for 10 days. Use your results to determine which temperature conditions are ideal for mould growth.
Ingredients that Slow Mold
Some breads seem to mould faster than others. Determine why different types of bread grow mould at different rates. You'll need one slice each of whole wheat, sourdough, multigrain and white bread. Place each slice in separate zipper bags and label them. Record the expiry dates for each slice and the ingredients. Seal the bags and put them in the same location at room temperature. Observe the breads daily and record when mould growth appears and how long after the expiry date the first mould occurs. The whole wheat and the multigrain breads will mould faster. This might be because most of these types of breads contain no preservatives. The white bread will mould, but it takes longer. This might be because of the preservatives in the white bread slowing the growth. The sourdough bread should grow little to no mould at all.
Moisture and Mold Growth
Water is important to mould growth. Explore whether lack of water will stop or slow down the growth of mould on bread. Toast one slice of fresh bread lightly and place it into a container. Moisten a piece of bread and place it into another container. Place a third piece of bread in another container, but do nothing to it. Place the sealed containers in a warm, dark area such as a cupboard. Observe the slices for a period of about two weeks. The bread that is moist will show the fastest mould growth and the toast should grow little or no mould at all.
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