Article Highlight | 10-May-2024

Fungal building materials respond to weights through electrical signals

Innovative study explores sensory properties of mycelium composites

Journal of Bioresources and Bioproducts

In a pioneering exploration into the sensory capabilities of mycelium-based construction materials, a recent study in the Journal of Bioresources and Bioproducts has identified that these sustainable materials can respond to weight through electrical signaling. The research, conducted by a collaborative team from the University of the West of England and the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology, adds a new dimension to the understanding of mycelium-bound composites as a green alternative to conventional building materials.

The study background emphasizes the urgent need for environmentally friendly construction materials to mitigate the construction industry's significant contribution to global climate change. Mycelium-bound composites, made from organic substrates colonized by fungi, are being considered as a promising solution. The research aimed to determine how these composites, when colonized by Ganoderma resinaceum mycelium, would respond to the application of heavy weights.

Utilizing a Ganoderma resinaceum strain, the researchers cultured living blocks on a substrate composed of hemp shives and soybean hulls. The blocks were subjected to weights of 8 kg and 16 kg, and their electrical activity was measured using stainless steel electrodes. The findings indicated that the fungal blocks exhibited immediate and delayed electrical responses to the weights, with the ability to distinguish between the on and off states of the stimuli.

The study's results demonstrated that living mycelium composites could differentiate between the application and removal of weights, as evidenced by the varying amplitude and duration of the electrical spikes. Furthermore, the researchers observed a habituation effect, where the mycelium's response to repeated stimulation decreased over time, suggesting an adaptive capacity in these biological materials.

In conclusion, the research confirms that living mycelium composites can act as reactive biomaterials, with the potential to serve as sensors in construction applications. This innovative study opens the door to the development of smart, responsive, and sustainable building materials, aligning with the global push for eco-friendly construction practices.The review also highlights recent innovations in the field, such as the development of high-density molded cellulose fibers and transparent biocomposites, which are increasingly being used in the cosmetic and food packaging industries. Companies like Huhtamaki, Waitrose, L’Oréal, and Carlsberg are leading the way by incorporating molded fiber products into their packaging solutions, aiming to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

In conclusion, the study emphasizes the growing demand for clean, renewable, and biodegradable packaging products as a response to the global movement against plastic pollution. Molded fiber and pulp products are emerging as viable alternatives, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly option for the packaging industry.


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Journal of Bioresources and Bioproducts

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