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Mushroom eco-leather is becoming widespread

Mushroom eco-leather is becoming widespread

 


Mushrooms in fashion: ecological mushroom leather is becoming mainstream

(Left) Ganoderma lucidum (rishi) grown in aluminum trays with clear plastic lids, (Middle) Large mat of Ganoderma lucidum (rishi) harvested by peeling, (Right) Mycelium mat after harvesting and rinsing the residues of the growth medium. Credit: Research directions: biotechnology design (2024). DOI: 10.1017/btd.2024.6

As fashion designers search for alternatives to leather, growing leather substitutes from mycelium or mushrooms using a new pasty medium has opened up the possibility of growing this bio-made material faster and to cultivate it more easily.

Researchers studying how to grow and grow mycelium leather more efficiently tested their hypotheses by growing and harvesting mycelium leather mats using a new paste of their own design as a substrate. Their conclusions are published In Research directions: biotechnology design.

Mycelium materials offer an inexpensive and environmentally sustainable alternative to some petroleum-based materials and a more sustainable and ethical alternative to animal-based leather. They can be grown on a wide variety of agricultural and industrial organic wastes or side streams.

With greater adoption and larger scale production, these products have the potential to become more economically viable than established traditional materials. They can also be optimized to meet consumer demands.

Researchers examined the compatibility of fungi for the development of leather carpets using two fungal species: Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), a medicinal mushroom widely used in biodesign; and Pleurotus djamor (pink oyster), a gourmet mushroom that tends to quickly colonize the substrate and enter the fruiting phase, meaning it quickly produces mushroom fruit bodies.

By carefully formulating a new pasty substrate in which the mushrooms can grow, the researchers sought to improve the availability of nutrients from the mushrooms; allow their scalability; and streamline their cultivation processes.

Different species of mushrooms have their own substrate preferences, which means that an important part of growing mushrooms (and growing mycelium) is matching your mushrooms with the best substrate available. Common substrates include straw, coffee grounds and manure.

Mushrooms in fashion: ecological mushroom leather is becoming mainstream

Tensile tests of mycelium samples using the Mxmoonfree 500N digital dynamometer. Credit: Research directions: biotechnology design (2024). DOI: 10.1017/btd.2024.6

Mycelium leather is produced by growing the fungus as biological tissue or mat on a liquid or solid substrate, or as fungal biomass in submerged liquid fermentation. Solid-state fermentation provides superior growth conditions; However, surface fermentation in a liquid state allows mycelium mats to be harvested more easily, although growth rates are slower due to lower oxygen levels. Finally, fermentation in a liquid state gives improved yields, but the product must be further manipulated to produce a mat of mycelium.

In response to these challenges, researchers developed a new cultivation method based on a paste-like substrate that offers the advantages of high nutrient content as well as small nutrient particle size, facilitating nutrient absorption. .

The researchers found that by using this particular paste, they were able to grow thicker mycelial mats over a shorter period of time compared to growing on nutrient-enriched agar or liquid culture. Additionally, other benefits of this growing method became evident during the harvesting phase, as the mats had become strong enough that it was possible to peel them without the need to cut the leaf.

Lead author of the study, Assia Crawford, from the University of Colorado in the US, said: “As our world seeks sustainable alternatives to traditional materials, the use of living organisms to produce materials biodegradable alternatives with low environmental impact are attracting growing interest. – like mycelium leather, which is an ecological alternative to leather.

“The extensive processing required to transform hide into traditional leather carries high environmental costs. Additionally, petrochemical alternatives like faux leather, which have become increasingly popular in response to the challenges of animal leather production and associated ethical concerns, also have associated significant environmental impacts. with fossil fuel extraction, long periods of degradation and potential risks of gas release. Developing better alternatives is crucial in today's ecologically fragile world.

“Bio-design methods like those explored in our study contribute to the development of high-quality, scalable and biodegradable material alternatives. These in turn have the potential to address the environmental challenges associated with high textile consumption. Indeed, the flexible nature of pure mycelial mats is a compelling potential substitute for non-woven materials such as animal-based leather and petroleum-based faux leather alternatives.

“As researchers, we have a responsibility to continue to develop better materials in response to the climate crisis, which is what the study aims to do.”

More information:
Assia Crawford et al, Growing mycelium leather: a paste substrate approach with post-treatments, Research directions: biotechnology design (2024). DOI: 10.1017/btd.2024.6

Provided by Cambridge University Press


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