Plastic-eating mushrooms are the new superheroes in combating the growing waste crisis

September 26, 2018 by  
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A new study from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London says that fungi are capable of expediting the breakdown of plastic waste. The aspergillus tubingensis fungus was featured in the  State of the World’s Fungi 2018 report , which also documented that fungi are optimal in producing sustainable building materials and capable of removing pollutants from soil and wastewater. Whereas plastic generally takes years to degrade, the mushroom, first discovered growing in a Pakistani dump in 2017, could make it possible to break down the pollutants in weeks. The 2018 report is the first release of its kind, marking its debut with the monumental discovery that mushrooms could provide a solution to the growing plastic waste crisis. The global concern has spurred research and innovation in the design and tech industries, but U.K. botanists say that nature might have already provided an answer by arming itself with a biological defense against the plastic plague with which it is overwhelmed. Related: Scientists reveal new technique to make biofuel from mushroom waste Because its properties catalyze the deterioration of plastic molecules, the report announced that aspergillus tubingensis “has potential to be developed into one of the tools desperately needed to address the growing environmental problem of plastic waste .” According to the scientists, the mushroom has the ability to grow directly on the surface of plastics, where it breaks down the chemical bonds between the plastic molecules. Armed with a unique enzyme that is secreted by the sprout, aspergillus tubingensis is one of the most interesting fungi featured in the team’s research paper. The report also confirmed that white rot varieties of fungus like pleurotus ostratus and trametes versicolor have a beneficial effect on soil and wastewater, removing pesticides, dyes and explosive remnants. The trichoderma species has been identified as a stimulant for producing biofuels through its conversion of agricultural waste into ethanol sugars. Fungal mycelium is also notable, especially for designers and architects interested in finding sustainable replacements for polystyrene foam, leather and several building materials. Tom Prescott, senior researcher at Kew Gardens,  told Dezeen , “The State of the World’s Fungi report has been a fascinating look into the fungal kingdom, revealing how little we know and the huge potential for fungi in areas as diverse as biofuels, pharmaceuticals and novel materials.” The State of the World’s Fungi report documents more than 2,000 new species found in 2017, identifying useful characteristics for both natural and industrial purposes as well as citing the obstacles they encounter as a result of climate change . More than 100 scientists from 18 countries collaborated on the study and cataloged the new mushrooms for the Kew Gardens “fungarium,” which houses over 1.25 million dried specimens of fungi from all over the planet. + State of the World’s Fungi 2018   Via Dezeen Image via Pree Bissessur

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

September 26, 2018 by  
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Taipei-based design practice BIAS Architects recently completed “Greenhouse as a Home,” an experimental installation that reinterprets the living areas of a traditional house as five climatic zones. Created for the 2018 Taoyuan Green Expo, the project invited the public to experience the buildings with all five senses, from feeling the climatic differences to eating fresh vegetables hydroponically grown in the installation. Greenhouse as a Home consists of five independent yet interconnected steel grid structures with varying heights and climates ranging from 16 to 29 degrees Celsius (61 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit). Greenhouse as a Home was developed to promote a “culture of sustainability” with its interactive programmatic zones conducive to education. “Here, the human living space is intertwined with that of the plants and organized according to climatic zones, rather than traditional architectural areas,” the architects explained. “ Greenhouses building materials and structures are arranged to separate climatic areas, while the distribution of water and energy flows is technologically managed. The roof is covered with various combinations of agricultural gauzes and plastic films to control lighting and solar radiation.” The experimental project is divided into five structures: the Fern Living Room, Farm Dining, Photosynthesis Kitchen, Sun Garden and Theater of Mushroom. A defined walking path links the different volumes. The first zone visitors experience is the Fern Living Room, a shadowy and humid space dressed with potted ferns hung from the ceiling. The next room, Farm Dining, is slightly hotter and less humid and serves as the main activity zone organized around a large table. Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food A vertical hydroponic farm is located in the Photosynthesis Kitchen, the middle zone where fresh vegetables are picked daily and cooked in the demonstration kitchen. The fourth zone, the Sun Garden, is the hottest and driest room of all and is used to desiccate vegetables. The fifth and final zone, the Theater of Mushroom, immerses visitors into a dark, highly humid environment with the coolest temperatures in the entire installation; the multisensory space is complemented by light and sound performances. + BIAS Architects Images by Rockburger

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A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan

Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

January 19, 2018 by  
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Scientists at Binghamton University have developed the first application of fungi in self-healing concrete. In a paper recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials , Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin and her team outline the ways in which a special species of fungi,  Trichoderma reesei , may act as a sealing agent when mixed with concrete . “This idea was originally inspired by the miraculous ability of the human body to heal itself of cuts, bruises and broken bones,” said Jin in an interview at Binghampton . “For the damaged skins and tissues, the host will take in nutrients that can produce new substitutes to heal the damaged parts.” Jin and her team’s focus on concrete could not be more topical. In the United States , a crisis fueled by historic underinvestment in infrastructure has resulted in increasingly dangerous roads, bridges, and highways. While Washington struggles to fund the federal government and state governments lack the resources to tackle this multi-trillion dollar problem, citizens still want something to be done before a major collapse occurs. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin . “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study If concrete were easier to repair, the cost of infrastructure maintenance would likely decrease. This is where T. reesei steps in. The fungus is mixed with concrete and lies dormant until the first crack in newly laid concrete appears. As water and oxygen permeate the crack, fungal spores will germinate, expand, and create calcium carbonate to fill the crack. While the technology is still in its early phase, its successful small-scale application demonstrates that fungal self-healing concrete may fit right in someday soon. Jin said , “In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance”. Via Binghamton University Images via Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University and Congrui Jin/Binghamton University

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How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study

December 19, 2017 by  
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It turns out mushrooms aren’t just great to eat, but played an essential role in creating an atmosphere suitable for animal life, according to a new study. The earliest plants to dwell on land did not have well developed roots or vascular systems. Fungi, among the earliest colonizers of land, helped facilitate the transfer of phosphorus from rocky soil to the primitive plants , which required the mineral to photosynthesize. “The results of including data on fungal interactions present a significant advance in our understanding of Earth’s early development,” said Benjamin Mills, co-author of a report on the research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B . “Our work clearly shows the importance of fungi in the creation of an oxygenated atmosphere.” The recent research shines a light on a process that remains mysterious, even in modern times. “Photosynthesis by land plants is ultimately responsible for about half of the oxygen generation on Earth, and requires phosphorus, but we currently have a poor understanding of how the global supply of this nutrient to plants works,” said Mills. Without fungi helping them acquire their necessary phosphorus, the earliest land plants would not have been able to survive. The oldest fossil of a land-living organism is of a fungi species, one of many which moved on land and helped to break down the rocky mantle into soil, enabling plants with roots to more easily extract their minerals . Related: Paris has a new underground – a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies To test fungi’s symbiotic relationship with early plants, a research team at the University of Leeds incorporated computer modeling and laboratory experiments which involved ancient species of fungus that still endure today. The researchers observed the differing rates at which different species of fungi exchanged phosphorus and carbon, which indicated how quickly plants might have produced oxygen. “We used a computer model to simulate what might have happened to the climate throughout the Palaeozoic era if the different types of early plant-fungal symbioses were included in the global phosphorus and carbon cycles,” said Katie Field, study co-author and plant biologist. “We found the effect was potentially dramatic, with the differences in plant-fungal carbon-for-nutrient exchange greatly altering Earth’s climate through plant-powered drawdown of CO2 for photosynthesis , substantially changing the timing of the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere.” Via Science Alert Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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The top 5 Inhabitat videos of the year

December 31, 2016 by  
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From foraging for mushrooms (and avoiding the poisonous ones) to eating your banana peels instead of throwing them away and touring NYC’s first micro apartment buildings , we had loads of fun bringing you all sorts of videos this year. Check out our top 5 videos of the year below and vote for your favorite. [poll id=118]

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Look like trees have their own living Internet

April 15, 2016 by  
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Back in 1999, scientists at Switzerland’s University of Basel began an experiment to see how trees would handle the large amounts of carbon dioxide we’re releasing into the air. In so doing, they stumbled onto the unexpected discovery that trees exchange carbon with one another, even when they’re not directly connected. This “ wood-wide web ” could totally alter the way we understand forest interactions. Read the rest of Look like trees have their own living Internet

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The mysterious phenomenon of “hair ice” finally solved by scientists

August 13, 2015 by  
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For nearly a century, scientists have been baffled by the phenomenon known as hair ice – hair-like ice formations found in the forest during certain times of the year. Now, scientists have discovered that the answer to the mystery may be found in the humble fungus. Though most of us don’t realize it, fungi are pretty incredible organisms. The majority of carbon sequestration in northern forests is facilitated by fungi , clean-burning biofuel can be created by fungi, and fungi can be used to remove toxins such as BPA out of the environment.  Not impressed? Fungi also play an essential role in building the environment, as scientists recently determined after finding that the beautiful and rare “hair ice” are the handy work of fungi. Read the rest of The mysterious phenomenon of “hair ice” finally solved by scientists

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The world’s oldest polychrome book was so fragile nobody could open it – until now

August 13, 2015 by  
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Stunning modular Open/Private Apartment in Poland boasts a mini cinema

August 13, 2015 by  
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Surprising Photos Reveal the Enchanting World of Fungi

May 20, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Surprising Photos Reveal the Enchanting World of Fungi Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , Botanical , eco-photographer , fungi , fungi species around the world , magic mushrooms , mushroom photos , mushrooms , Photography , photos of fungi , Steve Axford

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