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Plastic Eaters and Salt Lovers

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These are a set of questions mostly aimed at Peter McCoy but any feedback would be helpful, I hope!

First are there any known salt loving mushrooms, mushrooms that grow in maritime environments for folk that are struggling to grow food near the seaside just seems like an understudied aspect of mycology. Considering what mushrooms can do for other gardens, I imagine they could really boost plant growth in such harsh environments...if they were resilient enough to survive themselves.

Secondly I've heard of some studies done using fungi to break down such nasty things as Styrofoam having some success, but has there been any promising research into using fungi to break down plastics in general? Any suggestions on species that one could potentially 'train' to break down plastics into less harmful or non-harmful component parts?

Ultimately either of the above questions getting solid answers (and lots of experimentation and propagation behind those answers) could make some potentially amazing things happen, more food-producing land, and way to break down persistent pollution sources respectively, but what I'm really after is combining the two. While my initial idea of a Glorious Myco-Armada to Save the Sea(!) is a bit naïve, now that I've at least studied a bit more about the problems the world Ocean faces with all of the plastic polluting it, I'm still of a mind to try and partner with fungi in a way to filter out and break down said plastics. Sure, there aren't literal islands of plastic to launch the 'Myco-Armada' into via major ocean currents, but floating islands with some form of filtering matrix of fungi beneath the surface anchored off shore of major river outlets might be doable. Yes anchoring artificial islands off shore is going to run into all kinds of human-based problems, but those can be dealt with when/if there are a battery of fungi developed/discovered that can do the work.

There, I've gone ahead and thrown my crazy out there for all to see...have at it.
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I recall seeing something from paul stametts that said he had plastic eating ones.
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Shawn Harper wrote:I recall seeing something from paul stametts that said he had plastic eating ones.

I remeber him talking about soaking straw in salt water to use as mass sterilization for oistermushrooms for oilspill remediation an him finding out that nobody knows about salt tollerance of mushrooms but every body being shure they are not. So there is one and more testing is wellcomed.

Sorry, no spellchecker on my phone.
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Apart from sea-side, another thing: I want to have salt bath and baking soda bath, and I have a problem to recycle sodium water... I was thinking about a salty bed..... So, YES please tell about salt loving mushrooms! Edible of course....
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Great questions!
Short answer, there is no good research into salt loving mushroom. There is, however, great research into the salinity protection provided by non-mushroom-forming arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. You can read about it here.

I would encourage cultivating indigenous AM fungi and inoculating your plants with them to increase their resilience.

Several years ago I wrote this article on fungal and the plastics problem. I also made this video on how I trained Oysters to break down cigarette butts. In my book, I go into the topic a little further, but not much as there is not much more to say. It does seem like they hold great potential for addressing this major problem, but not a lot of people are looking into it.

We need to focus on non-mushroom forming fungi more, in regards to the plastics problem. Im guessing that the heavy hitter will be a soil fungus or endophytes, or (more likely) a successional guild of fungi and other microbes.

Cody Greene
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Thank you Peter your answers are giving me someplace to go with this line of thought.

A question on locating potentially suitable endophytes, outside of those endophytes that act as saprophytes (and mushroom forming) after the demise of their host, what sort of techniques are used to locate them in the field? I was thinking that looking amongst the plants that grow sea-side would possibly yield both a salt-tolerant and potentially plastic eating variety of endophyte. On rocky shores I'd also be looking for lichens to study, though I don't recall having seen any here where the beaches are white sand.

"not a lot of people are looking into it" sounds like a great reason to set up some experiments around here and see what I get!
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