Paul Stamets at TED: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Mushroom expert Paul Stamets speaking at an event outdoors.

Andrew McFarlane / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Yesterday I posted about, and in the process of researching that post I came across the following video of Paul Stamets speaking at TED which, for some reason, we have yet to feature on TreeHugger (though we have written about Paul Stamets’ work before). In true TED style, Stamets leads us in just over 18 minutes through a dizzying array of initiatives that he and his team have been exploring, in collaboration with universities, private companies and even the defence department, regarding ways that fungi can help us combat environmental destruction. From cleaning up of oil spills and other pollution with mushrooms to using mycelial mats to filter out E. coli from farm run-off, to harvesting mushrooms from old growth forests to combat small pox and even flu, it seems there’s little that mushrooms can’t do for us.

Stamets is also experimenting with packaging materials infused with mycelium and tree seedlings, that could help regenerate old growth forests (though I can’t help but wonder about the dangers of shipping non-native species around the globe), and he has also been exploring the possibility of using fungi in the production of cellulosic ethanol (Matthew has delved a little into fungi and ethanol before). But, in our experience of talking about Stamets’ work, it’s usually the slides about mycopesticides that most often blow people’s minds – once you’ve seen a mushroom infesting a termite, and then sprouting from its head, you start to understand what Stamets means when he says that these are powerful organisms that we would do well to understand better

Anyone wanting to learn more about the work of Paul Stamets and his team should check out his company, Fungi Perfecti, or get hold of his latest book, Mycelium Running (which has been recently expanded).

::Fungi Perfecti::via YouTube::