Mycoremediation : What is happening to Petroleum products( for Nikoli) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


By Paul Stamets
[an extract from an article in Whole Earth Review]
Earth's Natural Internet
Healing the planet with mushrooms

For the past four years I have been working with Battelle Laboratories, a nonprofit foundation whose mission is to use science to improve environmental health. Battelle is a major player in the bioremediation industry, and widely used by the United States and other governments in finding solutions to toxic wastes. The marine science laboratory of Battelle, in Sequim, Washington became interested, as their mandate is to improve the health of the marine ecosystem. Under the stewardship of Dr. Jack Word, we began a series of experiments employing the strains from my mushroom gene library, many of which were secured by collecting specimens while hiking in the old-growth forests of the Olympic and Cascade mountains. We now have applied for a patent utilizing mycelial mats for bioremediation, a process we have termed "mycoremediation."

Mycelia produce extracellular enzymes and acids that break down recalcitrant molecules such as lignin and cellulose, the two primary components of woody plants. Lignin peroxidases dismantle the long chains of hydrogen and carbon, converting wood into simpler forms on the path to decomposition. By circumstance, these and other fungal enzymes are superb at breaking apart hydrocarbons, the base structure common to oils, petroleum products, pesticides, PCBs, and many other pollutants.

After several years of experiments, we have made some astonishing discoveries. (I am continually bemused that humans "discover" what nature has known all along.) The first laboratory and outdoor studies showed that a strain of oyster mushrooms could break down heavy oil, removing over 97 percent of the toxic and recalcitrant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and more than 80 percent of the alkanes. A pilot-scale project was carried out at a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) maintenance yard in Bellingham. WSDOT and Battelle each funded part of this experiment, in which three bioremediation methods and untreated controls were compared. Each test-and-control mound was about 10' x 10' x 3', or about ten cubic yards of contaminated soil. Two methods were applied by WSDOT and its subcontractor: one employed native bacteria, the other used engineered bacteria, and both required monthly fertilizing and tilling. Our group applied the living mycelia of oyster mushrooms. We inoculated three mounds of soil, each contaminated with a different mixture of diesel fuel, motor oil, gasoline, and other petroleum hydrocarbons.

After four weeks, the tarps were pulled back from each test pile. The first piles, employing the other techniques, were unremarkable. Then the tarp was pulled from our piles, and gasps of astonishment and laughter welled up from the observers. The hydrocarbon-laden pile was bursting with mushrooms! Oyster mushrooms up to twelve inches in diameter had formed across the pile. Based on our earlier tests, we estimated that most of the PAHs and alkanes had been broken down by this time. The mushrooms were tested and shown to be free of any petroleum products.

After eight weeks, the mushrooms had rotted away, and then came another startling revelation. As the mushrooms rotted, flies were attracted. (Sciarid, Phorid, and other "fungus gnats" commonly seek out mushrooms, engorge themselves with spores, and spread the spores to other habitats.) The flies became a magnet for other insects, which in turn brought in birds. Apparently the birds brought in seeds. Soon ours was an oasis, the only pile teeming with life! We think we have found what is called a "keystone" organism, one that facilitates a cascade of other biological processes that contribute to habitat remediation. Critics, who were in favor of using plants (as in "phytoremediation") and/or bacteria, reluctantly became de facto advocates of our process, since the mushrooms opened the door for this natural sequencing.

By the study's end point at twelve weeks, the total petroleum hydrocarbons were reduced by mycoremediation, and the soil had been enriched by the treatment and by the development of a complex community. The soil was tested and shown to be nontoxic and suitable for use in WSDOT's highway landscaping.

Another discovery involves the use of some of my mushroom strains in the destruction of biological- and chemical-warfare agents. Most of the research is currently classified by the Defense Department, but we can tell you, for example, that certain of our proprietary strains have been shown to break down surrogates of sarin and soman, similar to the potent nerve-gas agent Saddam Hussein was accused of loading into missile warheads during the Gulf War. This discovery is significant, because these compounds are very difficult to destroy by any other method. Our fungus did so in a surprisingly effective manner.

By Paul Stamets
(Whole Earth Fall 99)

Nikoli, looks like there may be a 'fungus among us'.(grin)

-- Possible Impact (, January 23, 2000



OT or not,


-- Tom McDowell (, January 23, 2000.

Quick, Robin! To the chemtrail plane, with a fresh batch of mushroom spoors!!

-- Jay Urban (, January 23, 2000.

Now just wait for the "magic mushroom" crowd to genetically engineer the pollution eating mushrooms to also produce the psychotropic compounds needed to induce a high and then folks will be begging to get chemtrailed.


-- Wildweasel (, January 23, 2000.

Chemtrails Central: "This is Chemtrails Central. What is the nature of your call?"

Caller: "Yes,this is Dumont Argyle of 7435 Westphalia Avenue, in Larchmont County....we haven't been sprayed in several days, and I'm really starting to have a bummer....nothing's electric anymore, just flat, two dimensional,no tracers or after images... and nothing's buzzing either! And the echoes after every sound are gone too! Like, whats going on?"

Chemtrails Central: "Mr. Argyle, please be patient. We are expecting to get to your area by the end of today, if not; then first thing in the morning. Can you hold out that long?"

Caller: " Yeah, I suppose so...but man! Ya'll shouldn't let so much time elapse between passes, ya know?"

Chemtrails Central: Yes, Mr. Argyle...we are working on increasing our staff of pilots, and a new fleet of C-141's should be arriving next month...we are doing all we can to maintain and improve our service!"

Caller: "Well, that's good to hear...I couldn't stand to think of live without you guys...."

-- Jay Urban (, January 23, 2000.

Have you thought of this:
"enzymes and acids that break down recalcitrant molecules such as lignin and cellulose, the two primary components of woody plants. Lignin peroxidases dismantle the long chains of hydrogen and carbon, converting wood into simpler forms on the path to decomposition."

What happens when the gene for producing these enzymes is spliced into the DNA of an organism that can infect trees? Liquid paper?
Oh, What will they think of next?

-- Possible Impact (, January 23, 2000.

Hey, really enjoyed this one. Majored in Botany,and my favorite subject was mycology. Loved those lab hours looking at ascomycetes and basidiomycetes. nice post.

-- lyn (, January 23, 2000.

Now if Saddam had really been angry at getting kicked out of Kuwait, instead of the nice, intelligent guy he is, he would have dumped a bunch of this enzyme down their wells to the pool and do in the West and Saudis at the same time. Then just sit back and wait for the dominoes to fall.

-- Mush (, January 23, 2000.

One question: What might the effects be upon human who breath these (not a botanist so I assume them to be) spores? And I presume the effect would show first on the elderly, the very young, and those with respiratory impairments?

It occurs to me that disinformation usually contains a core of truth. There was a post here recently, something like the "12 rules of disinformation" -- or was it propaganda -- wish I could find that post right now.

Re. the chemtrails, even if I discount honest folks making mistakes, and discount coincidence, there are waaay still too many reports for me not to consider that something's happening. For example, I remember reports from several years back that our gov't was spraying in Northern Calif, supposedly to kill marijuana plants.

And if the (totally) unmarked multi-engine jet aircraft part is true, what private corp. could pull that off on this scale?

Also re. the chemtrails, do we know of any very detailed bloodwork done before and after exposure of (best choice might be a small, isolated community) to this stuff? Or whatever that stuff is?

Now, pursuing the biowar angle, supposedly the Sovs have never stopped development of those weapons. And supposedly their storage conditions are absolutely horrible (per visiting U.S. scientists). Let's presume the first statement is true. Question: What else might be out there? Marburg? Soomething else?

-- Redeye in Ohio (, January 23, 2000.


Those mushrooms normally grow on dead or dying wood. The breakdown process takes some time, normally.

The spores are not dangerous to breathe, that I know of.

The mushrooms are quite tasty. I've eaten them for years (ever wonder why the handle? {BG}). NOT "magic mushrooms".

If this fungi, unmodified, can do this, it is a great discovery. Especially since they fruiting bodies themselves (the mushrooms) are NOT toxic. As in still edible.

-- mushroom (, January 24, 2000.

Jay was attempting to divert your attention away from the actual subject.(and maybe add some humor, but I don't think that was his purpose...)
The article has Nothing about chemtrails or airborne dispersal of spores(usually black,BTW).
The possibility exists that organisms that produce oil eating enzymes have (or can be) used for Industrial sabotage or Economic Terrorism.
The list of people that could use this technology for harm is so large it wouldn't load in Notepad. The Russians have the old Soviet germ lines in storage, but I think any 3rd world lab tech can cook up a nasty bug all by (him/her)self.

-- Possible Impact (, January 24, 2000.

Yes! The possible good uses of this discovery are pretty major, hence the 'remediation' part in the title. Toxic waste into compost in 3 to 4 months sounds like a magic to me.(grin)

-- Possible Impact (, January 24, 2000.


-- Mara (, January 24, 2000.

Interesting indeed.

As for nerve gases -- cholinesterase inhibitors -- two uses could be made of the reported decomposition by this mushroom strain. First, to decontaminate an area of soil. This would take time -- the mushrooms don't grow overnight. It wouldn't work on contaminated structures as the fungi won't grow there. Second, to deactivate existing stocks of BCW agents. The work would have to be done in carefully controlled conditions.

In the case of accidental or deliberate human exposure to such nerve gases the mushrooms would be no use at all as the lethal effects are very prompt.

-- Tom Carey (, January 24, 2000.

Did I miss something here?: "We inoculated three mounds of soil, each contaminated with a different mixture of diesel fuel, motor oil, gasoline, and other petroleum hydrocarbons."

...with a different mixture...? doesn't sound like a very well controlled experiment if they used different mixtures in the three piles being compared.

What am I missing here?????

-- Norm Harrold (, January 24, 2000.

There were 6 piles for each of 3 methods, a total of 18 piles.
Three mixtures plus three controls(just dirt, no oil) for each method.
Hope this helps clarify.

-- Possible Impact (, January 24, 2000.

Hey Nikoli,
Any comments? Haven't seen you on the board in a couple of days. It was your answers in another thread about a virus that prompted me to post this article.

-- Possible Impact (, January 25, 2000.

Hi possible, sorry it took me so long to reply, it would have been even longer if Ashton and Leska hadn't pointed your thread out to me. I do think the potential exist for some pretty nasy terrorism-warfare applications of this technology in the immediate future. Not using mushrooms but genetically engineered bacteria. Say if you had a texas gazilliuonaire like oh George Bush and his cartel of Exxon buddies, who wanted to jack up the price of oil on a permanent basis so that they could make a few billion more off those hundreds of thousands of acres of tired Texas oilfields they own which have been losing money for nearly 20 years, and you say maybe knew a bunch of ex (or Current) CIA agents who were on staff at the old Bechtel oilfields in Saudi and Kuwait.......

-- Nikoli Krushev (, January 26, 2000.

We are in the the starting stages of this technology. I've not seen this work in a major journal; but it doesn't sound impossible. It may or may not be a start. For you conspiracy theorists, I have strains of A. clavaceps that will grow on jet fuel [almost kerosene]; I have other Aspergillus strains that will grow on roofing. You can start a new scare.

Best wishes,,

-- Z1X4Y7 (, January 26, 2000.

Paul, you sound serious enough. But do you know how to actually make soap? Try that, for a starter. The original method started out with burned bark. Champion that, if you can.

-- My Story (and I, October 22, 2001.

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