Better Living Through Mycology

Paul Stamet’s vision of a fungicentric future.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Paul Stamets envisions a world in which mushrooms aren’t just for foodies but are a powerful way to fight disease, clean up pollution, and produce clean energy. Some fungi-friendly developments that could spring from his research:

A MUSHROOM OF ONE’S OWN Cardboard is impregnated with spores so that instead of throwing away boxes, you can put them outside and—voilà!—organic, locally grown mushrooms.

FLU FIGHTERS Fungi are developed into new and powerful antivirals that can stop smallpox, tuberculosis, HIV, and flu strains.

SPORE CLEANSERS Polluted watersheds are purified and filtered by fungi. Oil spills, mining runoff, and other contamination can also be cleaned up by mycoremediation.

THE WAR ON BUGS Entomopathogenic fungi replace toxic pesticides for termites and carpenter ants. Another strain targets malarial mosquitoes.

MUSH-VROOM Myconol, a cellulose-based biofuel produced by fungal sugars, is nearly identical to corn ethanol, without the oily agribusiness connection.

FUNGI.GOV The forests where fungi such as agarikon grow are preserved as a matter of national security. The feds stockpile fungal drugs in case of a bioterror attack or flu pandemic.

MUSHROOMS TO MARS Stamets theorizes that fungi could thrive on other planets—should we decide to enlist them as interplanetary ambassadors. “Spores have no borders,” he writes.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate