Fungi are everywhere. In the air, in the water, in our bodies, in the trees, in the ceilings of our bathrooms, underground. They can be mushrooms (edible, medicinal, hallucinogenic, or very poisonous), or take other simpler forms, such as molds. They can trigger illnesses, but they can also produce antibiotic remedies, such as penicillin, or help ferment amazing cheeses and breads. Could they also be the future of packaging and building materials? Fungi are nature's primary recyclers. They produce enzymes that aid in the degradation of organic matter, transforming it into minerals. Typically, these life forms grow best in shaded and humid environments. Like an iceberg, the visible portion of a fungus only represents a small fraction of it. Below the surface, for example, mushrooms develop long thread-like roots called mycelium. These are extremely thin white filaments that develop in all directions, forming a quickly-growing complex web. When the fungus is implanted in a suitable place, the mycelium behaves like glue, cementing the substrate and transforming it into a solid block. This substrate can be composed of sawdust, ground wood, straw, various agricultural residues, or other similar materials, which might otherwise go to waste.
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