Japanese Mushrooms Found To Yield Natural Rubber

Tune in—there’s good news from Tokyo: Japanese researchers say they have produced rubber from a natural substance extracted from the chichitake mushroom, an edible, wild mushroom commonly found in the country. The end-product is also free of a certain protein commonly associated with allergies. The researchers’ aim is to commercialize the rubber—which could potentially take a bite out of our dependence on oil. (Hey, even if it’s just a nibble, every bite counts.) Obstacles do exist, of course. Presently, it takes more than 22 pounds of the mushrooms to make just 2.2 pounds of rubber, but hopefully, that ratio will increase. And though the mushrooms are common, they are not yet grown commercially, can only be found only at the height of summer, and rot after only about 10 days. But the biggest task will be in reducing production costs, say the scientists, as it currently costs about 10 times much to produce rubber from the mushrooms as it does to tap rubber trees or make rubber from petroleum products. We have faith that ingenuity will prevail, or, at the very least, it's encouraging that new sources for raw materials are being found. Plus, it’d give a whole new meaning the term magic mushroom. Thanks for the tip Tim Leanse! ::Reuters [by MO]