Mushrooms come in a wide variety of species, they recycle dead plants which helps to create nutrient soil, and they can be turned into food, furniture, packaging, leather, and more. Enter MycoWorks, a team of engineers, designers, and scientists that is working to create a sustainable, leather-like material with fungi… specifically Reishi mushrooms. From Science Friday:

…MycoWorks’ key ingredient is mycelium, the microscopic, root-like threads of a mushroom that latch onto and colonize different substrates. As a natural fiber, mycelium is particularly attractive because it can be grown and manipulated into myriad textures and shapes, according to Phil Ross, the chief technical officer at MycoWorks.

“Fungi are very sensitive; they will change their growth in relationship to how they’re being poked and things like that,” Ross says. “You put it in a cup, it would take the shape of a cup.”

…Ross says that right now, they can produce a slab of mycelium that’s 27 square feet—comparable to a full-size cowhide—in two weeks. They hope to get the process down to about a week, and eventually ramp up production so that they can efficiently produce millions of square feet each year, and maybe even build facilities in other U.S. cities.

What would you make with a fungi-based material?

More resources: the North American Mycological Association’s Instructional Materials for Teachers and Naturalists – Teaching About Fungi: Grades K-12 and College, including this useful-looking pdf: The Fungus Files – An Educator’s Guide to Fungi K-6… and if you want to grow your own fungi (to eat, not necessarily to wear), check out Back to the Roots’ Organic Mushroom Farm or this Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit Log.

Next, Biodegradable mushroom packaging, jiggling mushrooms traveling on machines, and an excellent time lapse: Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).

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