Penicillium is a genus
, growing as green,
blue or white mold
s on decay
ing food, especially fruit
The name Penicillium comes from the Latin word for brush, penicillus,
based on the brush-like shape of the fruiting (spore-bearing)
structures as seen
under a microscope.
For the most part, Penicillium species like low temperatures. It is
a versatile and opportunistic fungus than employs a wide
range of enzymes to attack a host of organic foodstuffs.
Eating infected food can be dangerous to animals and humans
alike, as the fungi can produce dangerous toxins (mycotoxins),
some of which are carcinogenic, and others that can cause
serious deleterious effects.
Penicillium isn't all bad, however. Some species are used to
produce and ferment cheese. Nor should we forget
P. notatum and P. chrysogenum, from which we can produce
the antibiotic Penicillin.
There are over 230 species of Penicillium, but some of the
best known are:
P. italicum - blueish, most commonly found on citrus fruit.
P. digitatum - olive-green, also fond of citrus fruit.
P. roqueforti - blue, used in the production of Roquefort cheese.
P. gorgonzola - bluish-green, used in cheese production (e.g. gorgonzola).
P. expansum - blue/white, often found on inappropriately stored apples.
P. notatum - white, used to produce Penicillin, which the mold secretes as it grows.
P. chrysogenum - similar to notatum.
P. glaucum - blue, used in production of cheese.
P. wortmanii - used to produce wortmannin.