Researchers have zeroed in on a method to grow fungi into almost any shape and also remain biodegradable. The product can replace plastic used for packaging and storage.
Mycelia, the underground portion of fungi takes in nutrients from available materials like wood and uses them as food. Thus the fungus thrives and grows.
"When you think of fungi and their mycelia, their function - ecologically - is really vital in degrading and breaking things down," researchers said. "Without fungi, and bacteria, we'd be I don't know how many meters deep in waste, both plant matter and animal tissue."
A company called Ecovative Design, the pioneers in making the best of mycological power, employs several species of fungi, to make and create products that are environmental-friendly.
"Most of our partnerships are secret, but we just partnered with the Sealed Air Corporation (the inventors of bubble wrap) to expand distribution of our protective packaging products," said Gavin McIntyre, who is chief scientist and founder of the company.
Making items out of fungi is not a difficult task as fungi are hardworking. The process begins with farming byproducts after which it is sterilized ad mixed with nutrients and chilled. Further, mycelia spawn is added and the whole amalgam is put in a large container.
Many containers are kept in vertical racks and there is quick growth of mycelia. The entire package converts to a milky white and the fungus fills up every available cranny of space and substrate.
"Our natural products, the creation of which takes less than five days, have no allergy concerns and are completely non-toxic. They could be eaten, though they're not meant for consumption," said the company spokesperson.