Yeasts vs Molds- Definition and 23 Major Differences

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Differences between Yeasts and Molds

Both yeast and molds are eukaryotes – organisms with cell nuclei and membrane-bound organelles in the kingdom Fungi.

Differences between Yeasts and Molds

The major differences between Yeasts and Molds are:





1.       Definition Yeast is a unicellular, budding fungus. Mold is a multicellular, threadlike fungus.
2.       Form Grow as large single cells. Grow as multiple tubular branches.
3.       Cell type Unicellular Multicellular
4.       Habitat Very common. It can be found on fruit and berries, in the stomachs of mammals and on the skin, among other places. Typically found in damp, dark or humid areas.
5.       Appearance White and thready. Usually oval in shape. Mold has a fuzzy appearance and can be found in several shapes.
6.       Hyphae Yeasts do not have true hyphae. Instead, they form multicellular structures called pseudo-hyphae. Molds have microscopic filaments called hyphae.
7.       Spore Yeast is a not a sporing species of fungi. Mold is a sporing fungus
8.       Colony morphology Yeast colonies are soft, opaque and cream-colored. Filamentous type colony with vegetative hyphae and aerial hyphae.
9.       Color Yeasts are less colorful compared to molds (colorless). Molds are very colorful and maybe orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple.
10.    Incubation Temperature Routine incubation temperature is usually 25oC to 30oC (room temperature). Routine incubation temperature is usually 25o to 30o C, although 35o C incubation can be used to differentiate some molds based on temperature tolerance or to determine whether organisms are diphasic.
11.    Cultivation time These organisms usually grow within 24 to 36 hours after inoculation on media. These organisms usually grow more slowly than yeasts after inoculation to media.
12.    Aerobic/Anaerobic Yeast can grow in aerobic as well as in anaerobic conditions. Molds grow only in aerobic conditions.
13.    pH range for growth Growth limited to a pH range of 4.0 to 4.5.  Mold can grow in a wider range of acidity (pH) levels than yeasts.
14.    Diagnosis/


Identification bases on physiologic tests and a few key morphologic differences. Most clinical molds can be determined by microscopic examination of the ontogeny and morphology of their asexual spores.
15.    Reproduction Most reproduce asexually through mitosis. The most common form called “budding.” A smaller number of yeasts reproduce by binary fission. Reproduce through small spores, which can be either sexual or asexual.
16.    Asexual Spores Blastospore Sporangiospores and Conidia
17.    Sexual Spores No Sexual Spores. Zygospores, Ascospores, and Basidiospores
18.    Energy Production Convert carbohydrates to alcohol and carbon dioxide in anaerobic through fermentation. Also, obtain carbon from hexose sugars. Secrete hydrolytic enzymes that degrade biopolymers such as starch, cellulose, and lignin into simpler substances that can be absorbed.
19.    Health risks It can cause infection in individuals with compromised immune systems. It can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
20.    Other risks Comparatively less involved in spoilage. Molds cause a greater threat in terms of food spoilage and sanitation concerns, particularly in fresh produce.
21.    Uses Ethanol production, baking, vitamin supplements, the study of the cell cycle. Some molds are used in food production, for example, Penicillium is used in the production of cheese, Neurospora in the production of oncom, which is made from the by-product of tofu. Mold is also a crucial saprophyte.
22.    Species 1500 known species – 1% of all fungi. There are 400,000 types of molds.
23.    Examples Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cryptococcus neoformans, etc. Alternaria, Aspergillus, Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, Rhizopus, Trichophyton, etc.


  4. Parija S.C. (2012). Textbook of Microbiology & Immunology.(2 ed.). India: Elsevier India.
  5. Sastry A.S. & Bhat S.K. (2016). Essentials of Medical Microbiology. New Delhi : Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers.

Differences between Yeasts and Molds

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

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