Mushroom fruit could aid in clean up of bioweapons

A strange new natural contender in aiding in the fight against biological weapons has stepped forward, with researchers learning that the fruit of mushrooms can be used in cleaning up following a biological attack.

Mushroom researcher Paul Stemets has discovered that mycelium from mushrooms may be able to break down and detoxify biological warfare agents.

Mycelium, the fruit of a mushroom, breaks down hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons form the base for many pollutants and biological weapons. In forests, mycelium's main role is breaking down and recycling nitrogen, carbon and plant and animal debris.

Mushroom mycelia have also proven effective in breaking down lead and mercury as well as removing industrial toxins from soil, including pesticides, chlorine, dioxin and PCBs. It has also shown to be effective in killing E. coli and Staphylococcus sp.

Mycelium act as a filter, absorbing compounds from the soil and water that surround it and removing any usable materials. Once all usable materials are absorbed, mycelia break down any remaining contaminants. In soil contaminated with diesel fuel, following an inoculation with mycelia from oyster mushrooms, the soil was found to have lost its toxicity in only eight weeks.

In the event of a groundwater based attack, mycelium can also be used to cleanse the water of contaminants and pollutants.