Mushrooms. From “Food” to Biotechnological marvel

Ah, mushrooms, what wonders they are !

There are, of course, a lot of toxic shrooms in our world, but I believe the few eatable — delicious — mushrooms more than make up for the many killers in the culinary domain.

My personal favorite is Coprinus Comatus, because it grows on University grounds and is simply DELICIOUS… (Sadly, no specimens large enough for eating remain — I wonder why 😉 –, though some of the smaller ones seem to be staying at the juvenile stage for an abnormal length of time… Strange… I’m pretty sure it’s been a week and it’s the same shrooms at the same stage of growth !).

Coprinus Comatus

For the mass public, Mushrooms remain a delicacy, and the most “tech” they get is when we farm them, as mushroom farming is especially complicated (involving, for the most dedicated, the creation of culture media, sterilization, several growth stages, and hot potatoe stew for dinner.. Yes’ I’m serious, just observe PDA Method N1 here).

But as much as Mushrooms are a delicacy, our future may be intrinsically linked to them in other — not-so-comestible — ways:

What would you say to replacing plastic with Fungi, or mimicking Mycelium enzymes to create the perfect medicine delivery system (or the perfect bioweapon, depending if the circumstances get very bad…).

There’s also other — let’s just say “interesting” — applications, like Fungi Furniture (I signed up for New-Scientists competition to win one of the first designer ones in 2012-2013 — Sadly I didn’t win… –. By the way, they’re holding a giveaway of the most popular books right now, why not check it out? ) or Moss Graffiti (This one was shared by my mother on FB… one of the many times her web-surfing on strange sites turn up something fascinating !)

There remains, in my opinion, an immense realm of possibilities when it comes to Fungi, and it’s application to our everyday lives

  •  monitoring environmental conditions.
    Mushrooms are fickle when it comes to their growing conditions. maybe we can use that to our benefit — Note: Already done 
  •  Increasing agricultural yields
    Mycorrhizae, the symbiotic association between fungi and root-bearing plants…Aaand this association just happen to one of the decisive factors in plant evolution, as plants without mycorrhizae tend to develop poorly, be more susceptible to disease…   So, why not engineer the Mycorrhizae to be more effective, spread farther, give them aerial parts with chlorophylles (okay… now I’m digressing into Wonderland, I’ll stop !).
  •  Atmosphere scrubbing on space stations.
    Mycelium “roots” should, in the future, be able to catch contaminants (be it to use or dispose of) from the air, scrubbing harmful chemicals from the air. If this is combined with the famous “Bio-Scrubbers” AKA plants that are, at least in Sci-fi, used to scrub the air of Carbon Dioxide and release Oxygen, keeping the atmosphere in a space-station acceptable, it could be even more interesting !

Also, why not replace vacuum cleaner filters with mycelium ? Inherently degradable, and if the right kind is chosen could allow passage of air with a tight filtering of contaminants !

To sum up, there are a LOT of applications for Mycelium in the future, who knows? Maybe I’ll even be a part of it ! (still a bit indecisive on what I’ll focus my studies on, but Mycology is a definite option, though I may try for a Biotech Engineering school in Bordeaux after my L2 / L3 first…)

I’m currently going through the Fizzle introduction courses, and the one I’m in — Finding your Subject — has led me to evaluate a dozen or so possible subjects with a Weighted Decision Matrix (fun little tool, I’ll probably use that again in the future !).

I’ve narrowed it down to one of these (or a combination…):

  • Biotechnology.
  • Crowdfunding.
  • Wearable Technology (+- App Development).

The final part of the course is to write 5 blog posts ( + a hypothetical product outline) on each of the ideas.

This is number 2/5 of the Biotechnology subject.

PS: The Fizzle Show is an excellent podcast, go listen !


About novusophia

21 year old undergraduate (Year 2) Biology student in Perpignan, France. I'm obsessed with Biotech, Science in general, and Entrepreneurship, and planning on one day combining them all ! (Also, I'm going to take over the world... bow before the overlord !)
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