Better Living Through Mycology

Paul Stamet’s vision of a fungicentric future.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Paul Stamets envisions a world in which mushrooms aren’t just for foodies but are a powerful way to fight disease, clean up pollution, and produce clean energy. Some fungi-friendly developments that could spring from his research:

A MUSHROOM OF ONE’S OWN Cardboard is impregnated with spores so that instead of throwing away boxes, you can put them outside and—voilà!—organic, locally grown mushrooms.

FLU FIGHTERS Fungi are developed into new and powerful antivirals that can stop smallpox, tuberculosis, HIV, and flu strains.

SPORE CLEANSERS Polluted watersheds are purified and filtered by fungi. Oil spills, mining runoff, and other contamination can also be cleaned up by mycoremediation.

THE WAR ON BUGS Entomopathogenic fungi replace toxic pesticides for termites and carpenter ants. Another strain targets malarial mosquitoes.

MUSH-VROOM Myconol, a cellulose-based biofuel produced by fungal sugars, is nearly identical to corn ethanol, without the oily agribusiness connection.

FUNGI.GOV The forests where fungi such as agarikon grow are preserved as a matter of national security. The feds stockpile fungal drugs in case of a bioterror attack or flu pandemic.

MUSHROOMS TO MARS Stamets theorizes that fungi could thrive on other planets—should we decide to enlist them as interplanetary ambassadors. “Spores have no borders,” he writes.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.