Researchers from Newcastle University and Northumbria University in the United Kingdom have found that the thin, root-like threads produced by many fungi can potentially be used as a biodegradable, wearable material. That would repair itself.
The researchers opined that the fragile skins could serve as a substitute for leather, satisfying vegan, environmental, and fashion tastes.
FUNGI AND RESULTS
The scientists focused on the Ganoderma lucidum fungus. They developed a skin from branching filaments known as hyphae, which together weave into a structure called a mycelium. On the results, the researchers said that mycelium materials could survive in dry and oligotrophic environments. They found that self-healing is possible with minimal intervention after a two-day recovery period. The researchers said that the process used to produce these materials tends to kill off the chlamydospores – the fungal spores that help the organism regenerate itself.
Crucially, the production process did not kill off the chlamydospores, which could be revived to grow fresh hyphae over breaches in the skin. The material can also heal itself when damaged by simply applying some water and pressing the edges together.
The team also did some work with the Pleurotus ostreatus fungus, which does not have chlamydospores in it. It was not able to self-heal in the same way, demonstrating that it was the chlamydospores that gave the material its ability to regenerate.