ECOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS TO OILS SPILLS

This very important article was recently published in Space of Love Magazine (http://www.spaceoflovemagazine.com/ ), a wonderful publication produced by people inspired by the insights of Anastasia and Vladimir Megre. This article speaks of one aspect of where I see future technology going: that is, natural!… working with the living beings already placed by Creator on this wonderful world.  We already have everything we need, we just need to get to better know this paradise planet on which we live and this article well illustrates this.  Please circulate.

Blue Eagle

P.S.- I didn’t include the pictures of this article where we clearly see the effectiveness of mycoremediation.  Please see SOL magazine #8 summer 2010.

MYCOREMEDIATION

and its Applications to OIL SPILLS

When I was in Eastern Siberia, enjoying beautiful Lake Baikal, I could not help noticing the important political issues and conflicts surrounding one of the so-called mono-cities, Baikalsk, and its Pulp and Paper Mill. The mill at once offers employment to many of the locals there but is also known to be adding substantial loads of toxic waste to this incredible natural wonder. Baikal is the world’s oldest and deepest lake, known for holding 20% of the world’s fresh water and home to over 1600 endemic species of plants and animals. (I got to see the world’s only freshwater seal there.) Because of these wastes, the mill had finally been ordered to shut down under pressure from various local and international environmental groups. To the great dismay of these groups, the mill was reopened recently after Putin himself visited and judged the lake to be unaffected by the toxins. When it comes to the incredible balance Mother Nature uses to ensure the viability of her ecosystems, few of us can truly know what effects our – literally – wasteful behaviours have upon our future . So, I couldn’t help thinking about mycelium authority Paul Stamets and the fact that he saved some of our own waters, and the fisheries up north here on the West coast of the USA. He did so by helping the locals deal with and clear up the waste which was contaminating the fresh waters and destroying the fish population. Paul had used nothing but Mycoremediation. WHAT, I thought, would happen if Paul helped the local Baikal people not only to clear those waters, but to learn to use gourmet and/or medicinal mushroom cultivation as an additional income, so as to become less dependent on a single industry? So I wrote a letter to the mayor of Baikalsk explaining all that, emphasizing how his city could be a model-city, exemplifying how they turned around and used a difficult challenge and triumphed. All the while, the owner of the paper mill could suddenly be a hero rather than a villain. Oh, if only more people understood how quickly we could turn around our world’s problems! Now, all Yuri needs to do is translate the letter into Russian and it will be on its way. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. But on to even larger concerns: Mycoremediation for the BP oil spill.

R.J.

“The sea will turn black and many living things will die.” ~ Hopi Prophecy #7 (of nine)

Paul Stamets

© by Paul Stamets

The BP oil spill has inflicted enormous harm in the Gulf of Mexico and will continue to do so for months, if not decades, to come. I have many thoughts on this disaster. My first reaction is that when the skin of the Earth is punctured, bad things can happen. Clearly, this disaster could and should have been prevented. Despite all their assurances of safety, BP and/or BP’s subcontractors, failed to ensure the functionality of the emergency equipment on the Deep Horizon rig. The oil industry claims that further regulation will handcuff them, but it is now obvious that more steps need to be taken to prevent a catastrophe like this from ever happening again. However, this spill did happen, and we now must deal with the aftermath. Although estimates have been that BP could be liable for more than 14 billion dollars in clean up damages, very few in the media have mentioned the long-term, generational consequences of this oil spill. There will inevitably be a surge in cancer cases, widespread degradation of wildlife habitat, and an array of diverse and complex strains on local communities, our nation, and the planetary ecosphere as a whole. We all know that the seas are connected, and ultimately our biosphere suffers globally when suffering locally. Now as the hurricane season approaches, we may see catastrophes converge to create what may be the greatest ecological disaster in hundreds of years. While we will need a wide array of efforts to address this complex problem, mycoremediation is a valuable component in our toolset of solutions.  Mycoremediation has demonstrated positive results, verified by scientists in many countries. However, there is more oil spilled than there is currently mycelium available. Much more mycelium is needed and, fortunately, we know how to generate it. Here is what we know about mycoremediation, based on tests conducted by myself, my colleagues and other researchers who have published their results. (See extensive references and reading list on www.fungiperfecti.com/mycotech/pe troleum_problem.html)

What we know:

1) We now know that one of our strains of Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) is tolerant to saltwater exposure. The mycelium fully colonizes salt water soaked straw. Salinity levels will be disclosed in the near future. 2) Straw that has been inoculated with Oyster mushroom mycelium floats, making it a potential candidate for use in water-borne mycelial containment filtration systems. 3) More than 120 novel enzymes have been identified from mushroom forming fungi. 4) Various enzymes breakdown a wide assortment of hydrocarbon toxins. 5) My work with Battelle Laboratories, in collaboration with their scientists, resulted in TAH’s (Total Aromatic Hydrocarbons) in diesel contaminated soil to be reduced from 10,000 ppm to < 200 ppm in 16

weeks from a 25% inoculation rate of oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mycelium, allowing the remediated soil to be approved for use as landscaping soil along highways. (Thomas et al., 1999) 6) Oil contains a wide variety of toxins, many of which are carcinogens. 7) Mycelium more readily degrades lower molecular weight hydrocarbons (3,4,5 ring) than heavier weight hydrocarbons. However, the heavier weight hydrocarbons are reduced via mycelial enzymes into lighter weight hydrocarbons, allowing for a staged reduction with subsequent mycelial treatments.

8) Aged mycelium from oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) mixed in with ‘compost’ made from woodchips and yard waste (50:50 by volume) resulted in far better degradation of hydrocarbons than oyster mushroom mycelium or compost alone. 9) Oyster mycelium does not degrade keratin-based hair as it produces little or no keratinases, whereas other mold fungi such as Chaetomium species (which include some high temperature- olerant leaf mold fungi) produce keratinases. 10)Worms die when put into contact with high concentrations of hydrocarbon saturated soils, but live after mycelial treatments reduce the toxins below the lethal thresholds. 11) Spring  noculations work better than fall inoculations as the mycelium has more time to grow-out. Bioregional specificities must be carefully considered. 12) Amplifying native mushroom species in the bioregion impacted by toxic spills work better than non-native species. 13) More funding is needed to better understand and implement mycoremediation technologies. 14) Oil spills will occur in the future— we need to be ready for them!

What we don’t know:

1) The differential gradients of decomposition of the complex oil constituents from contact with Oyster mushroom mycelium. Different toxins degrade at different rates when placed into contact with mycelium. 2) The variables that influence the success of mycoremediation, particularly since the targeted toxins are often complex mixtures of volatile and non-volatile hydrocarbons. 3) How many other species of fungi could be applied for mycoremediation beyond the few that have been tested? Up to now, Oyster mushroom mycelium (Pleurotus ostreatus) has been tested successfully but there are literally thousands of other species yet to be tested for mycoremediation. 4) How each fungal species used pre-selects the subsequent biological populations and how these further enable plant communities as habitats recover from toxic waste exposure?5) Whether or not the mushrooms grown on decomposing toxic wastes are safe to eat. 6) To what degree of decomposition by mycelium of toxic soils makes

the soils safe for food crops. 7) How economically practical will it be to remove mushrooms that have hyper-accumulated heavy metals— will this be a viable remediation strategy? Which species are best for hyper accumulating specific metals? 8) How to _inance/design composting centers around population centers near pollution threats. 9) How to train—on a massive scale—the mycotechnicians neededto implement mycoremediation.

10) How to fund ”Myco-U’s”, learning centers with emphasis on implementing myco-solutions to human made and natural catastrophes. 11) How extensively and diversely will mycoremediation practices be needed in the future?

How can we help?

Knowing that the extent of this disaster eclipses our mycological resources should not be a reason to not act.

I proposed in 1994 that we have Mycological Response Teams (MRTs) in place to react to catastrophic events, from hurricanes to oil spills. We need to preposition composting and mycoremediation centers adjacent to population centers. We should set MRTs into motion, centralized in communities, which are actively involved in recycling, composting and permaculture—utilizing debris from natural or man-made calamities to generate enzymes and rebuild healthy local soils. I see the urgent need to set up webinar-like, Internet-based modules of education to disseminate methods for mycoremediation training so people throughout the world can benefit from the knowledge we have gained through the past decade of research. Such hubs of learning could cross-educate others and build a body of knowledge that would be further perfected over time, benefiting from the successes and failures of those in different bioregions. The cumulative knowledge gained from a centralized data hub could emerge as a robust yet flexible platform that could help generations to come. Scientists, policy makers, and citizens would be empowered with practical mycoremediation tools for addressing environmental disasters. There are additional opportunities here. By encouraging strategically placed gourmet mushroom production centers near debris fields from natural and human-made disasters, we can open a pathway for mycoremediation. The ‘aged compost’ that is produced after mushrooms are harvested is rich in enzymes—a value added by-product and this ‘waste’ product is aptly suited for mycoremediation purposes. What most people do not realize is that most mushroom farms generate this compost by the tons and are eager for it to be used elsewhere. On a grand scale, I envision that we, as a people, develop a common myco-ecology of consciousness and address these common goals through the use of mycelium. To do so means we need to spread awareness and information. Please spread the word of mycelium. Educate friends, family and policy makers about mycological solutions. Bring your local leaders up the learning curve on how fungi can decompose toxins, rebuild soils and strengthen our food chains. What we lack is the widespread availability of

mycologically skilled technicians and educators and a more mycologically informed public. We need a paradigm shift, a multi-generational educational infrastructure, bringing fungal solutions to the forefront of viable options

to mitigate disasters. An unfortunate circumstance we face is that the _ield of mycology is poorly funded in a time of intense need.. Let’s become part of the solution. We may not have all the answers now but we can work towards an integrated strategy, flexible in its design, and yet target specific to these types of disasters. We should work in preparation to resolve ecological emergencies before and after they occur. Together, we can protect and

heal our communities and ecosystems.

For the Earth, (c) Paul Stamets; www.fungiperfecti.com; info@fungi.com; Phone: (360) 426-9292.

Paul’s books are available to help expand mycological awareness:

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms.

Paul also has an inspiring talk on Ted.com – an “excellent primer for those wanting to understand how mushrooms and fungi can help mitigate disasters and heal ecosystems,” as he explains it. (www.fungi.com)

Recommended texts:

Fungi in Bioremediation. Cambridge University Press. Singh, H. 2006.

Mycoremediation: Fungal Bioremediation. Wiley Interscience. Stamets, P. 2005.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Helpn Save the World. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California.

Towards an Integrated Solution: Mycoremediation Resources Gadd, G. 2001.

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