Mycologist Paul Stamets believes in the marvelous mushroom. Stamets, of Washington state, has researched ways in which fungi could be of great value for use as filtration systems for purifying water, for medicine, for protecting soil, for use as insecticide, for use in toxic clean up and even as an alternative fuel for the looming energy crisis.
Botanists have learned that fungi, so important to the formation and health of soil, and so useful as an antibiotic, are very real potential heroes for lives of all organisms. This is because fungi which include not just mushrooms, but also yeast and mold, has amazing properties which remain under-appreciated. Mycofiltration is a word that describes how the part of a fungus called mycelium can filter and purify water. The mycelium is the mostly invisible network of filaments that mesh in soil underground. They filter out toxic wastes and can even decontaminate some heavy metal toxins. They also are critical in forming soil.
It is important to note that “lab” mushrooms will never work for helping mushrooms purify the water supply apart from natural environments. Inter-connected watersheds, large riparian and lake areas, and especially old growth forests, are vital for the mycelium to do its cleansing work. Fungi facts also include other jobs of the mushrooms, such as being a valid food product and non-toxic pest control. They deter species such as termites and wood eating ants. There is proposed use of mushrooms in homeland security too. Due to the powerful ability of fungi to combat biological weapons of disease and chemicals, mycologists are also investigating many ways to employ mushrooms in counter terrorism defenses.
The properties of mushrooms as a food source are already well known. They add antioxidants to the diet, and they are naturally flavorful and low in calories. People could learn to use them at home, and they can be grown in most areas on earth to help supplement food supplies. They also could help people afford to eat well, without having to pay extreme rising prices.
As the world curtails its addiction to fossil fuels, thereby making such terrorist threats a lot less likely, mushrooms can be further utilized as a fuel in an of themselves. Myconol is the name of a biologically based fuel such as enthanol, but without the high cost and waste involved. Myconol, being a fungus based fuel could do much to avoid the presently ever accelerating international energy crisis. The waste products produced in all efficient employment of mycelium outlined will result in the end product which could then come full circle, to be used as fuel.
In these ways mushrooms, which by any standard are very beneficial, assist life on earth in more ways than one can count.