Fun fact: The largest living organism in the world is a mycelial mat (a massive colony of fungi) in Eastern Oregon: “2,200 acres in size, 2000 years old.”
If you watch the TED talk called “6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World" you’ll come across quite a few interesting tidbits of information. In one experiment, mycologist Paul Stamets used mushroom mycelium to treat a ground pile that had been contaminated with diesel and other petroleum products. What he found a few weeks later was that the treated area was thriving with life, while the control piles remained “dead, dark and stinky.” The mycelium “sporulated, the spores attract insects, the insects laid eggs, eggs became larvae. Birds then came, bringing in seeds, and our pile became an oasis of life.” Stamets is convinced that the untapped potential of mushrooms can be used to save our planet.
How does this affect you? How does it pertain to the topic of soil contamination? During his studies, Stamets might have found a way to help you promote the health of your garden through the use of mushrooms. According to fungi.com, “Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling’s root structure, supporting the plant’s own ability to utilize water and nutrients in the soil. This relationship encourages healthy, vigorous growth” without the use of fertilizers or other potentially harmful artificial means.
Another benefit of his research on mushrooms is the ability to use specific strains of fungi as a natural pesticide for your home or garden, which could reduce the amount of chemicals that are seeping into our soil. He has also experimented with the potential of using mushrooms to help solve the energy crisis, fight strains of flu viruses, and even work to cure breast cancer.
Check out the website, the youtube video, or the TED talk for yourself to find out more ways that mushrooms are “the soil magicians” and can help us clean up our dirty soil and maybe even save lives.
Added by: Erin Kashuba