Mushrooms Digest Entire Houses in Cleveland, Ohio

  • by:
  • Source: BBC
  • 03/29/2024
While mushrooms undoubtedly add a delightful twist to numerous  dishes, it's widely acknowledged that these fungi can pose serious risks, particularly when foraged in the wild.

Yet, what might catch you off  guard is the fact that mushrooms have the potential to infiltrate and conquer your entire home. Yes, you read that right. In Cleveland, Ohio, a somewhat dilapidated  building fell victim to a particular strain of mushroom, essentially sparing the city the trouble of having to demolish it.

From BBC:

Substrate is any material that mycelium – the thready, vegetative part of fungi – uses for nourishment. In other words, fungi can eat the noxious waste from the abandoned homes. Heavy metals and other toxins are extracted and captured in the mushrooms that grow, while the substrate leftovers, including the mycelium, are compacted and heated to create clean bricks for new construction. The resulting "mycoblocks" have a consistency akin to hardwood and, depending on the specifics of the manufacturing process, have been shown to be significantly stronger than concrete.

This is Redhouse's Biocycler program, which is one of many diverse efforts around the world aiming to eliminate pollution, combat climate change, and mitigate its already-looming effects via one of nature's oldest biotechnologies: fungi.

"Effectively what we're doing is diverting tonnage from landfill," says Joanne Rodriguez, founder and chief executive of a similar organisation called Mycocycle, which works to recycle construction waste for corporate clients. "[Because] 11% of the world's carbon comes from materials in the built environment. By 2027, just from Mycocyle's waste diversion, Rodriguez anticipates carbon reductions "of close to 160,000 metric tons."

While digesting entire houses may seem like a mighty task for the humble mushroom, some species' ability to devour waste and eradicate pollutants – among other characteristics – means they present an oversized opportunity to extract harmful toxins from both our built and natural environments. Along the way they may help to address a spectrum of additional ecological concerns. This is the emerging field of mycoremediation, which researchers assert could also create a "circular bioeconomy" in which less waste and contaminants are produced in the first place.

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