Black mold spores
click on pictures to see them larger

These spores came from a black mold I found on an orange that had been in my refrigerator for way too long. I didn't notice it until after I had already peeled it. Being ever resouceful, I saw this an an oppurtunity and put some of it under the microscope.

Black mold spores   400X  - click to see larger Black mold spores  1000X  - click to see larger

Like pollen grains, mold spores are extremely small and light and can float in the air buffeted about by tiny currents. They can remain aloft for a long time and thus be spread over a large area. When caught in thermal updrafts, they can spread all over the world. If spores reach a high enough altitude, it is possible that repulsion from the earth's magnetic field may cancel out the effect of gravity and they could drift into space. Since they can survive for millions of years, it is possible that some may land on another planet and find the right conditions to grow. Once the mold becomes established its spores would rapidly spead over the new planet. It is possible then, that some earth fungi may even now be growing on another planet and some of our fungi, or their ancestral forms, may have extraterrestial origins!

It should be pointed out that it has not yet been proven that spores are reaching outer space, "needle in a haystack" does not even begin to describe the difficulty involved in detecting them there, but there is no good reason why this couldn't happen.

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