Mycterials

The aim of our project is to experiment with mycelium and different kinds of living and non-living materials to generate a new kind of mycelium with different characteristics and that could potentially have different applications or advantages over the regular mycelium.

Changes in the characteristics of mycelium as a building material depending on species and feeding substrate have already been reported. (1) But the use of cyanobacteria to change the properties of mycelium during its growing stages hasn’t been reported; although this kind of symbiotic relation occurs in nature, generating the organism we call lichen in which the cyanobacteria using photosynthesis provides nutrients to both organisms and fungi provides a secure niche for the algae to grow. (2) Our hypothesis is that cyanobacteria could impact mycelium growth in a positive way by providing easy access to nutrients and nitrogen thus reducing time to grow the desired mycelium structure.

The non-living material, on the other hand, is metal. We’ll set in small particles of metal in the feeding substrate of the mycelium so that when the mycelium feeds on the organic part of the substrate, the metal particles stay embedded in the mycelium. The first idea of this concept is to create a “self-heating material”; during the process of making the mycelium a building material, the mycelium must undergo heating in the oven to be dried and used as building material but if we embed the mycelium with the metal particles and apply magnetic waves, theoretically, we should be able to dry the mycelium without needing an oven, making possible to dry some parts and keep growing other parts without needing to dry the whole structure. The challenges with this idea are that we don’t know the size of the metal particle has to have in order to dry the mycelium, that is why we’ll use 2 groups with different metal particle sizes.

Finally, we’ll use 2 different kinds of fungi to see the different relations with the cyanobacteria, the metal and we’ll also try to make combinations amongst mycelium to see if they are somehow affected buy the presence of the other fungi during growing stages and how this could affect the final product.

 

EXPERIMENT

Using the fungi strains Tremella fuciformis and Pleurotus ostreatus, we’ll set an ice tray with different samples to test the different relations with the materials. All the systems will be grown using the same substrate: coffee bean waste and crushed oatmeal in a 60:40 ratio.

We’ll have 5 groups; control group (CTL) that will contain just 1 fungi strain per well, the cyanobacteria group (CB) that will have 1 of the fungi strains plus 10ml of cyanobacteria in each well, small size metal particle group (MPs) with one of the fungi strains plus small metal particles embedded in the substrate in each well, medium size metal particle group (MPm) with one of the fungi strains plus medium size metal particles embedded in the substrate in each well and the fungi combination group (FC) that will have a combination of fungi in 1:1, 1:2 and 2:1 ratio of Tremella f. + Pleurotus o.

 

 

References:

  1. Haneef, M., Ceseracciu, L., Canale, C., Bayer, I., Heredia-Guerrero, J., Athanassiou, A. (2017) Advanced Materials from Fungal Mycelium: Fabrication and Tuning of Physical Properties. Scientific Reports, 7:41292, DOI: 10.1038/srep41292
  2. Vidyasagar, A. What are Lichens?, Live Science, (2016). Available from [https://www.livescience.com/55008-lichens.html], Accessed 24th March 2018.