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===Using mycelium as a building substrate===
===Using mycelium as a building substrate===
When you start growing on a larger scale, automation is an ad\vantage. Some information can be found in [https://github.com/pozsarzs/mm5d-hw MM5D * Growing house controlling and remote monitoring device] (via [https://magpi.raspberrypi.com/articles/szerafin-mm5d-mushroom-farm The Magpie Magazine]).

Latest revision as of 00:16, 26 June 2022

Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Reason: Disorganized mess, each subsection is only a single paragraph

This is the FAQ for the mycology general on /sci/. The FAQ is not finished and will be expanded over time. Please replace any dead links with a new, viable one to the same or a comparable resource.

What should I add to the FAQ?

The FAQ should have basic information about the general and offer a good starting point for those interested in any aspect of mycology. Try not to include information specific to a certain species of fungus. Likewise, if the topic is robust it may be better to provide a simple overview with links to external content or other pages on the wiki.

The vitamin D trick

This doesn't quite deserve it's own page, but is interesting and useful to know. Mushrooms convert enough of the ergosterol they contain into vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) to be used as a dietary supplement when the prodigious surface area of the gills is exposed to sunlight or UV light for a couple hours. Vitamin D2 is different from vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) which comes from animal source foods such as fatty fish.

What are mycorrhizae?

Mycorrhizal fungi are symbiotes that colonize the rhizosphere of plants, either by growing around the plants roots (ectomycorrhizal fungi), or by penetrating the outer cells of the roots (endomycorrhizal fungi, or abuscular mycorrhizal fungi). In exchange for sugars produced by the host plant, the fungi provide nutrients to the plant that it would not otherwise have access to through various means such as expanding the rhizosphere, digesting organic and inorganic matter in the rhizosphere, and forming mycorrhizal networks between plants. Mycorrhizal networks can be modeled as source-sink networks.

Links to wiki page and external content

How can I collect local mycorrhizal fungi?

The simplest method is to cook some rice in a pair of pantyhose, and bury it next to a tree that you know, or suspect, to harbor mycorrhizae for about a month before using it as an inoculant. If the rice has multi-colored spores then discard it and try again. A more complicated method is to collect the soil and fine roots from under several plants hosting mycorrhizae and use the soil to grow grasses and legumes in containers for about three months. Roughly two weeks before use as an inoculant, the plants are cut to the base of their stems and no more water is applied. The roots and any remaining plant residue is broken up into small pieces and mixed back into the soil prior to use.

Wiki links? External link to rice and pantyhose

Blog detailing the soil and plant method

Do I need sterile conditions to successfully grow fungi?

The short answer is 'no'. The slightly longer answer is 'yes'. The key to successfully growing fungi is to provide conditions that allow the fungi being cultured to outcompete the bacteria and other fungi that are acting as competitors or parasites. Proper sterile techniques accomplish this task through the exclusion of the competing microbes and so are very effective methods of cultivation. Sterile procedure is standard practice in any professional mycology lab and is used by the majority of mushroom cultivators for part or all of the cultivation process. Methods of cultivation that do not use sterilization can involve pasteurization, wild or acclimated mycelium, spore mass slurries, high inoculation rates, disinfection using hydrogen peroxide, use of substrates that select for the fungi being cultured, antibiotics or fungicides that do not affect the fungi being cultured, ect.

Links to sterile procedure Links to non-sterile procedures

How do I sterilize something?

Steam sterilization using a pressure cooker is the typical method of sterilization for home cultivation. The temperature must exceed 120 C at every point in the substrate for long enough to kill or deactivate all microbes and spores. The pressure is usually held at 15-20 psi for 15-120 minutes depending on factors such as substrate insulation value and thickness, expected level of contamination, expected contaminants, elevation, ect. Experimentation and intuition can replace intimate understanding of these factors. The pressure cooker should be able to hold a slight negative pressure as it cools to avoid reintroducing contaminants, otherwise an alcohol soaked rag must be placed over the release valve to disinfect incoming air.

Links to sterilization

How do I pasteurize something?

Pasteurization uses temperatures much lower than heat sterilization in order to decrease the population of contaminants in the substrate. This can be achieved by boiling a substrate for up to two hours, or to a lesser degree by pouring boiling water over the material to be pasteurized. Straining and drying is likely to be required with pasteurization methods. Pasteurization is less effective than sterilization and may result in a higher rate of contamination.

Links to pasteurization

How do I acclimate mycelium to inoculate non-sterile substrates?

A healthy culture, usually grown under sterile conditions, can be acclimated to grow on non-sterile substrates by placing a small amount of that substrate on top of the mycelium a week or two before you expect to transfer it. Incubate the mycelium away from sterile cultures and expect some degree of contamination. When the mycelium has grown onto the new substrate it can be used for inoculation. A high inoculation rate (~25%) will increase your chances of success with non-sterile substrates.

How do I cultivate mushrooms?

Cultivation begins by germinating spores or culturing mycelium in a liquid medium or on a solid substrate like agar, grain, cardboard, ect. The resulting culture is used as an inoculum for "master" cultures, which are in turn used to inoculate substrates for fruiting or further expansion. After the fruiting substrate has finished incubating it is kept under controlled conditions unique to the species and strain to initiate fruiting.

Link to cultivation page. External media may be linked here or on cultivation page

How do I collect mushroom spores?

Typically spore prints are made from the caps of a known species of mushroom and stored for use. Spores can also be collected by washing the gills with water or a nutrient solution, or by filtering a spore-leaden airstream such as the exhaust of a mushroom fruiting chamber/room.

How do I make a spore print?

The stem is trimmed from the cap which is placed on paper, glass, or foil with the gills down. Mushroom species that do not have a cap may instead be suspended with string. Enough of the stem should remain to allow air to flow beneath the cap. A cup, or similar container may be placed over the top to prevent drying, but is not necessary. The cap is left to sit for 6-48 hours depending on the species and desired spore density of the print.

How do I germinate spores?

Spores can be germinated on agar, in nutrient solutions, on paper products like cardboard and cat litter made from recycled paper, and a variety of other substrates. To germinate spores on agar, an inoculation loop is sterilized and used to transfer clean spores to petri dishes containing agar in a still box or laminar flow hood. The process for germinating spores on paper products is similar to germination on agar. To germinate spores in a nutrient solution, spores are transferred to the solution either using a sterilized inoculation loop, or by other methods such as washing the gills of a mushroom with the solution. The solution is incubated for a day or two and shaken a couple times each day to promote growth.

How do I make a nutrient solution?

A simple nutrient solution can be made with 1 tablespoon of honey or sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. The solution should either be pasteurized during preparation by using boiling water, or sterilized after preparation. Honey has antibacterial properties and salt slows the growth of bacteria, both of which help protect the solution from contamination. This recipe is especially suitable for spore germination. Recipes for liquid culture techniques may use ingredients such as yeast or yeast extracts, specific types of sugars, wood chips, beer, dog food, compost leachate, antibiotics or fungicides that do not affect the fungi being cultured, ect.

Links to liquid culture

How do I prepare agar?

Agar recipes are as diverse as the recipes for liquid culture. In general, a liter of nutrient solution (strained of solids, if applicable) is mixed with about 10-20 grams of agar powder (typically about 1% w/v), then sterilized. The sterilized agar solution is taken to a sterile environment and used to fill petri dishes to a depth of a few millimeters before it cools. The filled dishes are covered and allowed to cool, then stored until use. To prevent contamination the petri dishes are often wrapped with parafilm. An agar resistant to contamination can be made by adding 6 mL of 3% hydrogen peroxide per liter of agar solution after sterilization and carefully turning it to mix the solution without introducing bubbles. Agar treated in this way is not generally suitable for spore germination, but a dense enough point of inoculation can overcome this.

Links to agar culture

"Growing Mushrooms the Easy Way" R Rush Wayne, page 19

Is it worth it to use agar?

Agar culture is excellent for isolating and cloning strains, measuring growth, studying how the fungus reacts to certain conditions, ect. Every professional mycology lab uses agar culture routinely. Despite this many home cultivators find that their needs are served without using agar culture.

What can I do with spent substrate?

  • Bury the substrate in the garden to encourage additional flushes and to provide nutrients to nearby plants.
  • Use it to inoculate new substrate. Senescence may be an issue.
  • Sterilize the substrate and use it for a secondary or tertiary saprotroph.
  • Compost the substrate.

I'm new to mycology, where should I start?

This will depend most on your motivation or goal for studying mycology. Below are various resources grouped roughly by the focus of that resource.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION Links to books, videos, articles, wiki pages, blogs, ect. need to be added to every section and additional sections may also be needed. If at all possible, do not use links behind paywalls.

Biology of mushrooms

Cultivation of mushrooms

"Growing Mushrooms the Easy Way" R Rush Wayne

"The Mushroom Cultivator" Paul Stamets, J.S. Chilton

"Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" Stamets

Let's Grow Mushrooms! by Marc Keith on YouTube

Other agricultural uses of fungi

Mycoremediaton of land

Foraging and mushroom identification

Old Man of the Woods on YouTube

Medicines derived from fungi

Other compounds derived from fungi

Health benefits of fungi

Would you like to know more?

Links to documentaries and other non-specific resources

"Mycelium Running" Stamets

"Radical Mycology" Peter McCoy

"Entangled Life" Merlin Sheldrake

"Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds" George W. Hudler

Paul Stamets on YouTube

Learn Your Land on YouTube

Link to podcast "applied mycology"

What projects should I start with?

Below is a list of interesting projects that are simple enough for beginners. These projects have been selected based on the complexity of the process rather than the chance of success, and as a result not all projects guarantee success even when done properly.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION I intend to link to other pages on this wiki that describe the projects. The pages should contain enough information to attempt the project with external links to more comprehensive media such as books and videos.

Inoculating fir trees with chanterelles

Culturing mushrooms using stem butts

Link to wiki page

gardening knowhow article with ads

Using mycelium as a building substrate


When you start growing on a larger scale, automation is an ad\vantage. Some information can be found in MM5D * Growing house controlling and remote monitoring device (via The Magpie Magazine).