Cool the planet with mushrooms

About the episode

Mushrooms can keep cooler than their environment. But how do you regulate your body temperature as a mushroom?

Thanks to infrared measurements, the researchers were able to study the temperature of fungi, but also of yeasts and related species, both in nature and in the laboratory.

They found that the surface temperature of wild mushrooms, depending on the species, was about 1.4 to 5.9 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. In the lab, the fungal colonies were about 0.3 to 1.9 degrees cooler than the medium in which they were growing. With the coldest temperatures measured in the center of the colony.

Laboratory tests with oyster mushrooms showed that cold temperatures persisted throughout the growth process and in all parts of the mushroom. But how are they now? In fact, they lose their heat by doing something akin to sweating.

Can we do anything with this knowledge? Yes, say the researchers. They developed a passive mushroom-based cooling system that cooled the air temperature in a semi-sealed container by 10 degrees in 25 minutes.

What the research also shows, they say, is that if we don’t protect the earth’s fungal biomass (about 2% of the total biomass), the temperature could well rise a lot further.

Read more about research here: The hypothermic nature of mushrooms.

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