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Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World Paul Stamets ((BETTER))

By November 20, 2022No Comments

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World Paul Stamets ((BETTER))


Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World Paul Stamets

it was 1978 and penicillin was still the most powerful antibiotic in the world. but jones knew her cultures were sterile when they should have been producing copious amounts of penicillin. she believed it was the presence of a pollutant she had inadvertently stirred up. stamets sent samples to his lab, the longwood campus of boston university, for a test. the longwood lab confirmed the suspicion that jones had had. so, she was right. the pollutant was a fungus. and the fungus was growing inside of her petri dish. it wasn’t a breeder, but a mutualist. unlike other fungi, which reproduce asexually through spores, a breeder is literally a partner in a relationship. it grows its mycelium with the host, nourishing both of them. the relationship is symbiotic, and that’s why joness culture was sterile.

fungi are everywhere, and they are nearly all good. “there are over 1.3 million known fungal species on earth,” writes stamets, “and most of them are helping to solve problems in human health, agriculture, and conservation.” most fungi are saprophytes, he writes, meaning that they live off dead organic material. some are parasites, and some are parasites of other fungi.

as he watched the field of mushrooms transform over the next decade, stamets realized that the research possibilities were limitless. for instance, if he and his wife needed mushrooms, they could raise them in his back yard, or if they needed them for an experiment, they could go on the road.

in the early 1980s, stamets developed the laboratory technique for implanting mycelium into the soil. he tested his methods in parks and vacant lots, finding that the mushroom mycelium tended to colonize and break down the soil. if the mycelium was added to an area where a mushroom farm had been abandoned, it stimulated new growth of mushrooms there. he spent about $40,000 to buy a plot in the foothills of the sierra nevadas for his investigation.

stamets would probably be the first to tell you that he has always been interested in the mystical aspects of mushrooms. he has been enchanted by the ability of fungi to colonize our bodies and our environment, to recognize us as individuals and to help us attain our best health. mushroom lovers from all corners of the globe keep him in touch with the marvels and challenges of mushroom culture, and he keeps a constantly updated bibliography on the internet.
stamets has been giving talks for more than a decade about his research on the use of mushrooms in medicine, health and environmental restoration. at the end of one such talk, a businessman approached stamets and asked him if he would consider designing a mushroom-based biopesticide. stamets was wary: in mushroom circles, people always want to turn mushrooms into medicines, not into pesticides. but he agreed to take a look at the idea.
*growing mushrooms with mycelium, the living, dynamic networks of underground, threadlike organisms that live on decaying organic matter (wood, compost, straw, manure, etc.) and provide a food source for humans and other animals. mycelium can tolerate a wide range of conditions, and when present in sufficient quantities it can make habitats more hospitable for human and animal life.
*implanting mycelium into the environment, growing mycelium inside a culture tank (or in a bioremediation system) and then implanting the mycelium into the environment, growing it inside a wood or compost pile, lake, pond, soil or other habitat where mushrooms may not be able to grow.