The applications of mycoremediation:

Mycoremediation has a wide range of applications. So far successful treatments have been conducted on;

  • Industrial wastewaters
  • Distillery and brewery wastes
  • Petroleum hydrocarbons
  • Pesticides
  • Dyes
  • Pulp and paper mill effluent
  • Munitions wastes including TNT
  • Bleach plant effluent.
  • Wood preservatives.
  • Organochlorins.
  • Many other pollutants.

An exciting development in the field of mycoremediation was the recognition of the ability of the oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus to metabolise multiple pollutant PAHs. Pleurotus ostreatus has a remarkable resistance to salty conditions, so much so that it is able to grow and reproduce in sea water. This has led to exciting opportunities in the bioremediation of marine environments following disasters such as oil spills. There has been great interest by the public and government in using this technology to treat polluted environments in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Below is a statemnt by Paul Stamets to BP regarding this issue.

Paul Stamet's statement

Below are some photos demonstrating the way in which this technology can be practically applied to real world problems to remediate marine environments. A successfull technique has been to inoculate straw with fungi, then use the ability of straw to soak up and absorb oil from surrounding water (figures 1 & 2). The absorbed oil is then metabolised by the mycelium within the straw, often resulting in fruiting bodies formed by the mycelium, a sign of healthy fungi (figures 3 & 4). This has resulted in the development of 'mycobooms' which function as described above except on a larger scale (Figures 5 & 6).

Figure 1: Straw inoculated with fungal mycelium absorbing oil from water

Figure 2: Further absorption of oil from water by straw inoculated with mycelium

Figure 3: Oil being added to straw inoculated with mycelium

Figure 4: Oyster mushroom growing in the oil soaked straw

Figure 5: A mycoboom floating on salt water

Figure 6: Mushrooms growing from the end of a mycoboom

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Author: Justin Hurley Ley