Myco-filiation: partnering with mushrooms
December 12, 2019
!(/home/erik/Pictures/Podcast pics/King_Stropharia.jpg) I’m thinking I might have just coined a new term. But then again, maybe not. There’s lots of people finding new ways to to describe a proliferation of new ideas and strategies these days. I’m one of millions in that. But I do like the term, and I am liking even more the concept. Affiliation has a sense of intention about it, as well as a friendliness. We need more of both lately.
In case you are not already introduced and a fan, fungi (including mushrooms) are decidedly cool creatures. To begin with, they spend most of their lives out of sight, traditionally popping into our awareness after late summer and autumn rains. Their subsurface lives are all about networking; they put our Social Media to shame.
!(/home/erik/Pictures/Podcast pics/myconetwork.jpg) It turns out that most forest trees and a staggering number of other plants are physically linked through the fungal network, exchanging chemical nutrients as well as messages about the state of their environment. And then there’s the mating thing. Fungi don’t do simple gender. Forget the familiar male/female/trans that simplistically describe human gender. And forget hetero/homo/bi/poly-sexuality as we know it. Fungi have “mating types” instead, dozens of them, and to be fertile all they need to do is mix genes from any two different and compatible strains. Talk about choice… now that’s diversity! But I’ve digressed before I even started.
I was re-reading an article from Fungi Perfecti on the use of mushrooms for land reclamation and water filtration. Paul Stamets (mushroom guru and hero) recounts:
“King Stropharia depends upon bacteria for growth. At our farm which included a small herd of Black Angus cows, I established two King Stropharia beds at the heads of ravines which drained onto a saltwater beach where my neighbor commercially cultivates oysters and clams. Prior to installing these mushroom beds, fecal coliform bacteria seriously threatened the water quality. Once the mycelium fully permeated the sawdust/chip beds, downstream fecal bacteria was largely eliminated. The mycelium in effect became a micro-filtration membrane. I had discovered that by properly locating mushroom beds, “gray water” run-off could be cleaned of bacteria and nitrogen rich effluent.”
King Stropharia (pictured) is just one of many species whose natural strategies happen to match current human needs. Effortlessly. By nature. We should pay attention to the potential of myco-filiation.