- Mycoremediation is the process of harnessing fungi’s natural abilities to break down materials for a beneficial effect.
- Recent projects look to restore habitat marred by wildfires, or manipulate fungi in a lab to break down toxic waste and other human-created pollutants.
- Research continues looking at the broad ways fungi can possibly regenerate soils and keep moisture in the ground, which are necessities for creating wildfire-adapted lands.
We see disposable masks everywhere these days. Littered on the street and sidewalks, hanging out of garbage cans, floating through the neighborhood on a windy day. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous face coverings aren’t the easiest to dispose of or recycle, but what if they could sprout a mushroom? For Joanne Rodriguez, this is a far better use of a mask after it’s provided its humanly function.
“The masks? The mycelium loved it. They were fully grown out in two weeks,” she said. Rodriguez is the CEO of Illinois-based Mycocycle, a new company rethinking how fungi can clean up waste streams.
The oft-used adage of “mushrooms can save the world” takes on a new meaning when applied to the flourishing realm of mycoremediation, the idea of harnessing fungi to break down toxins or waste.
Recent studies, and new projects in the past few years, have cast new light on an old (a very old) natural process, with innovations and research continuing to bring more people into the work of drafting the humble fungi in the fight to clean up the world.