Sporendonema casei: bright orange cheese lover

Sporendonema casei is a food mold that totally freaks people out. When they find it on food, people think they are going to die. Bright orange apparently equals death.

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But this mold has been making a living on delicious cheeses in Europe for ages and so far it hasn’t cause any human health problems. As the name casei would suggest, this mold loves cheese. In fact, it’s only ever found growing on dairy products and scientists recently speculated that this mold is adapted to live in milk.

When Sporendonema casei initially starts to grow, the hyphae are white (which you can see in the photo above). Eventually it creates bright orange patches which are areas of spore production. Taking a close look at one of these bright orange patches reveals a tangled web of specialized cells called athrospores.

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The hyphae of the fungus are sectioned off into individual cells that can disperse and form new fungal colonies.

 

Murray’s Cheese in NYC has developed a protocol as part of their cave aged program to inoculate this mold on the cheese Hudson Flower. It’s an absolutely stunning cheese. Brian Ralph, cave manager at Murray’s, says that the Sporendonema casei gives the cheese a pleasant mushroom flavor.

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                        (photo by Tony Cenicola/New York Times)