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Dr. Summerbell on mould in DISCOVER MAGAZINE

Published: April 18th, 2012

Revised: April 26th, 2012

ASPERGILLUS NIGER is a common environmental fungus with a very interesting story. This black mold, “could probably be found on every table-top in the world,” says Richard Summerbell, research director of biotech Sporometrics in Toronto. It can cause everything from black fuzz on onion bulbs, to toenail infections, to painful and itchy swelling and discharge from the ears of children who stick dirty toys inside.

But A. niger, Summerbell points out, is also a workhorse of industry. For example, it can turn sugars into citric acid, the white powder that’s ubiquitous in foods, beverages, detergents, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. The fungus can also produce useful enzymes, such as alpha-galactosidase, the main ingredient in the anti-flatulence pillĀ Beano

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