Blog Archives

Black fungus may provide cheaper jet fuel

By Brett Smith, redOrbit.com

jetWe all want cheaper airfare, but the high cost of jet fuel is a major driver of today’s ticket prices.

However, a new report from researchers at Washington State University indicates that cheaper jet fuel could be on the way thanks to a common black fungus found in rotting fruit called Aspergillus carbonarius.

By providing a special diet, the study team was able to get the fungus to produce hydrocarbons similar to those in jet fuel.

“It’s very promising,” said study author Birgitte Ahring, a bioproducts expert at WSU, in a press release.”I think that the fungus-based fuels are something that is going to happen. It’s a tremendous opportunity.” Read more

Fungi Get Into the Holiday Spirit

holiday-themed-fungus-petri-dishes-snowman_62639_600x450The living artwork is the creation of Stephanie Mounaud, an infectious disease researcher at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland.

For the last several Christmases, Mounaud has used the different strains of mold that she works with to create holiday-themed fungal art.

The snowman pictured here was made by combining four different fungi, including common strains such as Aspergillus niger and rarer ones such as Penicillium marneffei.

Getting the colors just right for her artwork was tricky and required growing the right fungi on the right medium. For example, “the color that you see in the snowman is made from the spores,” hardy reproductive forms of fungi used for dispersal, Mounaud explained.

To coax the fungi to create spores, Mounaud used a nutrient-poor growth medium. “When you give them a starved condition, the fungi really want to produce their spores because they feel they’re in an environment where they need to survive,” she said.

Click here to see more festive mold or visit Stephanie Mounaud’s blog.

New antifungal composition effectively inhibits a wide variety of fungi

Provided by Asociación RUVID, AlphaGalileo

In order to overcome resistance to antifungal variety of pathogenic fungi and yeast, researchers from the University of Alicante have developed a novel and efficient antifungal composition with pharmacological applications in agriculture and food industry, among others.

The composition, developed and patented by the UA Research Group in Plant Pathology, is based on the combined use of chitosan, or chitosan oligosaccharides (COS), antifungal agents and additives that synergistically affect the growth of a variety of pathogenic fungi.

“Chitosan is a non-toxic biopolymer, biocompatible and naturally degradable, with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties obtained from chitin, the main constituent of hard body parts of invertebrates, such as the shells of shrimp, lobsters, crabs, and other marine crustaceans, and is part of the fungal cell wall”, as explained by lecturer Luis Vicente López Llorca, Director of the UA Research Group in Plant Pathology and head of the research work.

“Because many fungal pathogens develop resistance to prolonged treatment with antifungal drugs, it is desirable to find alternatives for their control in medical, agricultural and those applications in which the fungi cause damage. In clinics, pathogenic fungi resistant to antifungal drugs are a major cause of mortality in patients. Chitosan and the antifungal additives, some based on the identification of molecular targets of chitosan, contribute to produce a novel alternative to control fungal diseases and in particular antifungal resistant strains” López Llorca said. Read More

 

Move Over, Styrofoam; The Fungi Are Here

By Daniel Mathews, http://www.earthtechling.com

In the entire tiny-house movement, one tiny house stands out: it sounds the kookiest, but is the most likely to transform your world some day. Called the Mushroom Tiny House, it’s now growing in the upstate New York plant of Ecovative Design. (Rhymes with “innovative,” not with “evocative.”)

As you can see in the picture, it has inner and outer sheathing of tongue-and-groove wood. Within those walls, Ecovative is culturing fungi. On purpose. Mixed with moist ground-up corn stalks or other agricultural waste that serves as its food, this fungal mycelium takes just a few days to fill the space, at which point it will be dried out and killed. It will provide fire-resistant, vapor-permeable insulation, while also being so strong, and adhering to the wood so firmly, that no studs are needed.

wall with braces

A wall of the Mushroom Tiny House, with braces that keep the two wood panels from spreading farther apart under the pressure of growing mycelium. Via Ecovative.

(What is mycelium? It’s the “body” of a mushroom fungus, living year-round in the soil or other substrate, whereas the mushroom itself is just a temporary spore-disseminating organ. Mycelium comprises miles and miles of fast-growing, tiny, tangled, fibrous tubes each just one cell thick.) Read More