Mycore mediation – using fungi to clean pollutants – is being used to clean waterways, soil and in some areas, even radioactive waste. Here a US project is using locally grown mushrooms and coffee grounds to clean their local waterways.
The Ocean Blue Project, started by two local Corvallis residents – Richard Aterbury and Rosalie Bienek – begun using mushrooms to restore contaminated aquatic habitats in their area.
The project buy locally grown oyster mushroom spores that they grow in a coffee ground mix. Then they create a ‘bunker spawn’ which goes into the river. This consists of a burlap bag filled with wood chips and the inoculated oyster mushroom spawn. The bags are secured with bamboo sticks and placed on the river banks (see top photo). As the oyster mushrooms grow, they break down toxins in-situ, removing and neutralising the pollutants in the river (a form of bioremediation). Oyster mushrooms have been shown to reduce E. coli and break down hydrocarbons.
So far the project has been successful but it will take time to determine the full effects. Richard has hopes that one day metals will be able to be extracted from the mycelium which could then be used in computer chips and batteries – waste management at its best!
The Ocean Blue Project also plan to educate the community about unchecked industrial and agricultural runoff and alternative methods to pesticides and fertilsers.
To learn more, visit Ocean Blue Project’s website at http://www.oceanblueproject.org.