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Paul Stamets believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds.
Mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets' research is the Northwest's native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.
There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet.
1.3 billion years ago, fungi were the first organisms to come on land; plants followed hundreds of millions years later. We have more in common with fungi than other plants. Mycelium breathes oxygen like us.
Mycelium holds 30,000 times its mass. They are soil magicians. Creates a spongy soil. It is earth's natural Internet, a biologically successful model. It's highly branched. If a path gets broken, their are redundant paths. It is sentient, leaping up in aftermath of your footprints, trying to grab debris. They generate humus soils, and provide a multi-directional transfer of nutrients to trees. The sequence of microbes that occur of rotting mushrooms are an important part of natural cycle of the forest. I'm in love with old growth forests and I'm a patriotic American because of them.
Fungi uses radiation as a source of energy, so the possibility of fungi existing on other planets is a "forgone conclusion."
Mushrooms produce strong antibiotics. Work well against flu. We should save the old growth forests as a mater of national defense.
"The time to act is now. Waiting for science and society to wake up to the importance of these ancient Old Growth fungi is perilously slow and narrow in vision. The meager attempts thus far may be too little, too late. Unless we collectively pool our resources, the mushroom genome will become increasingly threatened, and therefore, our very existence may be at stake. The loss of these keystone organisms should be an ecological call-to-arms for all concerned about our children's future and the future of this planet.
"The rainforests of the Pacific Northwest may harbor mushroom species with profound medicinal properties. At the current rates of extinctions, this last refuge of the mushroom genome should be at the top of the list of priorities for mycologists, environmentalists and government. If I can help advance this knowledge, I will have done my part to protect life on this planet. And yet, if it were not for our customer's contributions, with our limited finances, this goal could not be achieved."