Student makes functioning canoe from mushrooms
A student from Nebraska is showing that mushrooms have incredible capabilities
Katy Ayers, a 28 year old student from Nebraska has grown her own canoe using fungi. Every time she takes it out onto the water, the canoe grows more mushrooms.
That's because Katy made her 8ft canoe from fibrous mushroom roots, otherwise known as mycelium.
These roots, which normally live underground beneath mushrooms – as you might expect for a root – are waterproof, fibrous and bouyant.
Ayers' canoe is undoubtedly a great talking point, but she designed this boat in the name of science, and not just for a bit of fun(gi).
Speaking to ABC news, Ayers stated, “Mushrooms are here to help us — they’re a gift.
“There’s so much we can do with them beyond just food; it’s so limitless. They’re our biggest ally for helping the environment.”
Not only do mushrooms and fungi break down harmful pollutants and chemicals, but they can, as Ayers demonstrates, be a sturdy, lightweight, waterproof and biodegradable material.
What Ayers is showing us through her canoe is that mushrooms have enormous potential to be used for everything from household insulation, to furniture, and of course, packaging. This kind of growth could replace single-use plastics, Styrofoam and other materials that are hard to recycle and are harmful to the environment.
But why a boat? Well, in addition to being a great way to show the material's strength and buoyancy, it's just what Ayers was needing to pursue her other passion: fishing.
She said to ABC news, "Since I’m from Nebraska, I love to fish. I’ve always wanted a boat. Why not just grow it?”
To make the boat, Ayers and a team of researchers from her university built a minimalistic wooden frame, sandwiched it with mushroom spawn and let nature do its thing. The boat took just 14 days to grow, demonstrating that production time would be no barrier to using this material in more real-world ways. It was hung from the hammock you see below to grow, and had a variety of splints to ensure it kept the right shape
Once the 14 days were up, the canoe was left out in the sun. After some time basking, it was dried out and ready to set sail.