Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World Paul Stamets __LINK__
Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World Paul Stamets
the results were identical to those of the first experiment. the shade-cloth-covered pile yielded thousands of portobellas. the other three piles yielded, respectively, 5,000, 5,500, and 7,500 pounds of mushrooms.
the next year, after a new round of testing, wsdot paid stamets $65,000 to plant a swale that contained contaminated soil from 15 areas across the united states. again, he applied sawdust with mycelium. this time, the shade-cloth-covered pile yielded an estimated 5,000 pounds of mushrooms.
the following year, the project went national. wsdot bought 12 plots at five locations across the united states. the plots ranged in size from about 100 to 400 acres, and all had been polluted with diesel fuel. stamets and his team covered each plot with either wood chips or sawdust and applied mycelium to half the piles. the results were the same.
his optimism was undiminished, but so was his ignorance. he had always shunned the mainstream. he raised his own mushrooms and supported himself as a consultant. now, in his mid-thirties, he was a father and a husband. he was a harvard professor and a full professor at university of massachusetts, a mycologist and a mycologist-in-residence at the new york botanical garden. wherever he turned, stamets was an oddity.
even his staff wondered why he would be working with a psychiatrist-turned-mycologist. his theoretical framework was so wildly idiosyncratic that, at first, nobody paid much attention to his findings. even then, stamets was ready to set aside the harvard distinguished service medal for the best undergraduate thesis in botany when he got the call from amanda jones, a medical student at umass. he had found a strain of penicillin-producing fungus.
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.