Mycoremediation is the use of fungi to bring a polluted/contaminated environment (usually soils) to a less contaminated state. This is achieved in the following ways:
- toxic/radioactive heavy metal removal
- biological cleanup (E.coli, malaria)
- chemical cleanup (VX, Sarin, petroleum products, pesticides)
- Ph correction
- speedy decomposition of cellulosic material (i.e. paper byproducts/woodchip)
- erosion control
Paul Stamets is the leading researcher in this field and in fact, coined the term Mycoremediaton. He has demonstrated to the world a few amazing case studies. First, the experiment he performed with the Washington State Department of Transportaton (WSDOT) entitled ‘Mycoremediation of Aged Petroleum Hydrocarbon Contaminants in Soil’ which is an absolutely revolutionary concept that involves less energy consumption and removes more of the toxic hydrocarbons than industry standard methods of repairing a contaminated site. Instead of removing tons of contaminated soil from the site, they instead piled it on site, and inoculated it with Oyster mushrooms. Their results were incredible. They found that Oyster mushroom mycelium is able to consume toxic hydrocarbons found in petroleum products such as gasoline and motor oil and utilize it as food. Not only are they able to remove these toxic chemicals, but they use them as a food source! And to make matters even better, they were completely edible! These same toxic hydrocarbons are broken down by the digestive enzymes into a non-toxic form!
Paul also created a ‘mycofiltration bed’ that reduces pathogenic organisms such as fecal coliform bacteria. For more information on Paul Stamets mycoremediation efforts visit his site Mycova. It has more on the WSDOT project, mycofiltration beds, and his work with Battelle Laboratories in which they killed dangerous organisms with fungi as well as research into chemical weapon cleanup.