Antimicrobial Research Series: Mold and Spices

By Division I student Phoebe

Tons of mold!  At least that is what Rhys, Phoebe, and Alex looked at with their experiment.  Their question throughout the project was: What spice out of many is the most effective at preventing bread mold from growing?  The spices the experimenters used were turmeric, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oregano, onion, garlic, and ginger.  The best spice out of all of them appeared to be cloves.  It had the least amount of mold on where the spot of spice was and right next to it was nutmeg, who had a lot of mold.  Oregano and cilantro both had quite a bit of mold.  Quite different, right?

Things the experimenters could have done better is making sure things are less contaminated and not exposing the petri dishes to air before using them.    Another thing they could have done better was using the right amount because in the first experiment they had used too much spice and not enough mold, or they could have had none at all because no one could not see mold!  The experimenters also decided that they should change from keyboard bacteria to bread mold because the spices were meant to fight back at molds instead of keyboard bacteria.  

    A couple of things that came in their way is that one, their first negative control had gotten contaminated with a huge spot of bacteria on it.  The point of positive and negative controls are so you can see how things  can grow with mold but no spices and just nothing but water itself.  You can see if the spices have an impact on the mold or the spices do nothing.   also see if mold will appear if there is nothing but distilled water.  The last experiment went better.  Less bacteria, almost none, were in the negative control. The control and the positive control had a lot of mold in it.  The others had plenty of bacteria as well for the experimenters had used a little less spice for the mold.  Things they could have done better is making sure things are less contaminated and not exposing the petri dishes to air before using them.    Another thing they could have done better was using the right amount because in the first experiment they had used too much spice and not enough bacteria, or they could have had none at all because  could not see it!  “The project was an excellent learning except. It taught me many things. I came with an open mind, though, I thought that garlic was antibacterial and it was right” (Alex Cooney).  

In the future, the experimenters said that next they would try to figure out what exactly is in the spices that makes them defend themselves against the molds.  They would probably do a chemical test to figure it out.  What they suggest to do to protect your food from mold is to just sprinkle a bit of spice, (preferably cloves), on the food all over.  Thank you for reading about this project, I hope you have a spicy day!