Can you “program” a mushroom to create usable materials?
MycoWorks talks about how they “program” the mighty mushroom to create a leather-like material.
As it stands, the mushroom is a pretty multi-purpose organism: Aside from its ecological functions, it can be eaten as nourishment, brewed as tea, taken as a naturopathic remedy, and used in dyes. But a San Francisco start-up by the name of MycoWorks has even more plans for mushrooms, starting with a leather-like material made from the fungi.
Questions for Students
- Explain why Philip Ross describes fungus as “programmable”. How does MycoWorks accomplish this “programing”?
- Why do you think people might be resistant to materials made from mushrooms? Recommend 2–3 strategies you think MycoWorks could use to combat resistance to this material.
- Why is it important to know how Ganoderma lucidum responds to stresses? How does this help MycoWorks?
- Why is mushroom leather better for the environment than animal-leather?
- Based on Philip Ross’ descriptions of the diverse materials they created, what would you want to try creating from mycelium? Draw and describe one idea.
- Introduce your students to the structures of mushrooms with this dissection activity.
- Explore resources from Teaching the Fungal Tree of Life, including a series that has you cultivate, examine, and dissect mushrooms in the classroom.
- Have students learn about mushroom identification. Using this activity, create spore prints of mushrooms, then use them to identify different mushroom species.