Oil-Eating Fungi


With this experiment, we attempted to replicate earlier trials to further document the efficacy of the common oyster mushroom in degrading hydrocarbons.

We received a donation of bunker oil. However, the vapor-pressure for bunker oil would have made for a much more complicated and dangerous experiment: explosions, volatile toxic compounds, and difficulties measuring evaporation vs. mycelial degredation. So we chose to test against conventional motor oil instead.

We first grew liquid culture (LC) of Pleurotus ostreatus in quart jars of honey and tap-water. Then we prepared pint jars with Tyvek membranes, loading them with consistent measurements of finely/uniformly chopped wheat straw that we hydrated with distilled water. We then sterilized the jars and media in a pressure-cooker. All jars were inoculated with a consistent amount of liquid culture, and then motor oil was then added in varying treatment amounts. We incubated all jars, including inoculated controls, and took measurements of mycelial growth at set intervals.


Inoculating the straw with oyster mushroom spawn.

Using a grid pattern on established on the outside of the jars, we measured convex surface area covered by visible mycelium. The oil treatments were at no point detrimental – IE: more oil led to more myceliation. So if we tried this again (or if you do!), we would increase the oil:mycelium ratio until we find a point at which the mycelium just can’t cope.

Want to learn more? Contact Taylor Bright at taylor@asdf.asdf.


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