Herbicide Contamination: A Possible Solution Through Fungi

Herbicide Contamination: A Possible Solution Through Fungi

Our Goal…

Our goal is to raise funding for the first stage of what will hopefully become a multistage research project on the use of fungi as a tool for cleaning soils contaminated with herbicide residues. The funding will go towards the necessary lab research in which we will test local species against specific chemicals. If successful we plan to pursue larger grant funding for continued field based research. Recently we have partnered with a local umbrella non-profit called Mancos Valley Resources, and because of this relationship can offer a tax ID number to those interested. Please contact us at sanjuanmycology@gmail.com for more information!

Thank you!

Click here to contribute to this project…

Mycoremediation: The use of fungi to degrade or capture environmental pollutants.

The field of mycoremediation has been growing since the 1980’s and has recently taken some major leaps in research and development. Fungi have shown an amazing ability to capture or degrade a wide range of environmental pollutants including biological contaminants such as fecal coliforms, industrial pollutants such as dyes and other runoffs, and chemical contaminants such as insecticides, hydrocarbons, PCB’s, Dioxins and herbicides (Singh, 2006).

Since the late 1990’s a newer class of herbicides known as the Pyridine Carboxylic Acid group, designed and developed by DOW Agrosciences, have been linked to contamination of soils and composts nationwide. The result of this contamination has been many millions of dollars in crop damages and business losses–more importantly it has also resulted in a heavy burden on our nations farmers and threatened one of the foundations of sustainable agriculture. Soil contamination from some of these herbicides can last years, and unfortunately there is little that people can do aside from waiting for the chemicals natural breakdown to occur (Haghood, 2012).

Chemical Degradation Through Fungi

Being one of natures major components of decomposition, fungi have an amazing ability to produce enzymes that breakdown lignin and cellulose (the major components of woody plants, and some fungi’s main food source). This specialized production system also has the ability to create “custom” enzymes that are capable of degrading other chemical structures as well, such as some herbicides (British Mycology Society, 2001).

Amazingly, fungi can be trained to identify chemicals and create enzymes capable of degradation. Recently some lab research has pointed to fungi’s ability to degrade one of the world’s most applied herbicides, Atrazine (Singh, 2006). The research, so far, is very promising and with your help we can work to add to this body of knowledge and help our community, and the communities of others! 

Thanks for your support!


-British Mycology Society. Fungi In Bioremediation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2001. Print

-Haghood, Scott; Hipkins, Lloyd; Hipkins, Pat. Pyridine Herbicide Carryover: Causes and Precautions. Virginia Cooperative Extension: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 2012. Print

-Singh, Harbhajan. Mycoremediation: Fungal Bioremediation.  New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006. Print

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Radical Mycology Book Indiegogo Fundraiser Campaign!

A grassroots guide to the theory and practice of using mushrooms and other fungi for personal, societal, and ecological wellbeing.

Mycology: The study of fungal biology

Radical Mycology: The theory and practice of using mushrooms and other fungi to create positive personal, societal, and ecological change.

Peter McCoy is a co-founder of the Radical Mycology project and co-organizer of the Radical Mycology Convergences. He has been studying mycology (the science of fungi) for over 12 years and is currently pursuing a dual degree in Media and Mycology at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. He is a cultivation and remediation instructor, community organizer, illustrator, author, street medic, zinester, and lover of the great outdoors.

Peter has written and produced several publications and videos on mycology, mushroom cultivation and mycoremediation. When he is not teaching cultivation courses in Olympia and abroad, Peter spends much of his time writing, making art, and coordinating a volunteer mushroom cultivation group in Olympia, WA that provides free mushroom gardens and installations to the Olympia community to teach about the benefits of fungi as food, medicine, and remediators.

Radical Mycology is a movement and social philosophy based on accessibly teaching the importance of mushrooms and other fungi for personal, societal, and ecological health. Radical Mycology differs from classical mycology in that classical mycology generally focuses on taxonomy, identification, mycophagy (eating mushrooms), and the more personal benefits of working with fungi while Radical Mycology is about using fungi for the benefit of larger communities and the world.

As a concept, Radical Mycology is based on the belief that the lifecycles of fungi and their interactions in nature serve as powerful learning tools for how humans can better relate to each other and steward the world they live in.

As an organization, the Radical Mycology project organizes the Radical Mycology Convergences (see below) and disseminates free literature and other media on the uses of fungi for food sovereignty, medicine creation, ecological restoration, mycopermaculture, community building, and creating resilient/sustainable lifestyles. The Radical Mycology project started in 2006.

To learn more about the Radical Mycology, visit the project’s website here.
To read the Radical Mycology project’s mission statement and goals, click here.

The Radical Mycology project began as an idea between two friends (Maya and Peter) 7 years ago when they met while working on volunteer projects related to ecological and social justice. Weaving the seemingly unrelated fields of mycology, environmental justice, systems theory, and social organizing together, the concept of Radical Mycology was born. Realizing that the importance of fungal ecology was missing from many environmental justice dialogues, the two developed a novel perspective on applied science. On all levels, it seemed, the fungi exemplified many successful and sustainable models that human activity can actively learn from.

In time, Peter wrote a zine (or booklet/pamphlet) entitled Radical Mycology that encapsulated their ideas. The zine quickly became quite popular and the positive feedback it received eventually inspired Maya and Peter to organize the first, second, and upcoming third Radical Mycology Convergences (RMCs). Modeled after the networked and collaborative structure of mushroom mycelium, the RMCs are donation-based events that teach the skills of low-cost mushroom cultivation and bioremediation while building a supportive community of like-minded mushroom enthusiasts and environmental justice supporters.

The two also run the website radicalmycology.com, where free resources and literature are provided to both educate the world on the benefits of fungi but to also foster a community of passionate mycophiles around the globe. There you can also find the new free Radical Mycology publication, Mushroom Cultivation for Remediation, and its associated 3-part instructional video.

To download and read the Radical Mycology zine for free, click here.

To download and read Radical Mycology’s Mushroom Cultivation for Remediation zine for free, click here.

To learn more about the Radical Mycology Convergences, click here.

This Indiegogo campaign will fund the next big step in the Radical Mycology project: funding the production of a book on the theory, practice, and applications of using mushrooms and other fungi to create positive personal, social, and ecological change. This book will be similar in design and flow to the Radical Mycology zine, but the toolbox of mycological skills and philosophical insights it will provide will be of much greater breadth and depth for those seeking to use fungi to make the world a better place.

The book will be visually compelling while serving as an educational resource guide at times and a philosophical call to embrace the fungi as allies at other times.

The Radical Mycology Book will not only include step-by-step instructions for mushrooms cultivation and applications in everyday life but will also be a resource for creating a paradigm shift in the western culture’s understanding of the fungal kingdom. The book will provide an entertaining and educational view into the mysterious, dense, and uncommon world of mushrooms and mycology, all explained by using accessible language, photographs, illustrations, and vivid metaphors.

Highlighted sections in the book include:

  • Practical mushroom cultivation with ways to make your own tools and equipment, alternative & low-tech techniques, and using high tech methods on a small budget.
  • Applications of fungi for perpetual food systems, permaculture, and land stewardship.
  • The theory and practice of mycoremediation including step-by-step guides to training a mushroom to digest a given pollutant, disaster protocols, and an explanation of the chemistry involved in the process.
  • Mycomanifestos and essays on the necessity of a Radical Mycology global movement.
  • The relationship between mycology, community organizing, systems theory, mutual aid, and ecological and social justice work.
  • How to start and run a successful community mushroom growing lab or group.
  • The art of guerrilla mushrooming and the ethics of habitat rehabilitation.
  • The history of entheogenic or psychedelic fungi in the formation of ancient and modern cultures and their modern importance for nourishing and enlightening the spirits of people today.
  • Lichenology & the role of lichens as medicine, dyes, and indicators of air quality.
  • Perpetuating fermented food cultures such as tempeh, miso, and Roquefort cheese.
  • Cultivating mycorrhizal fungi to build soil, support plant life, and reduce fertilizer consumption.
  • Biochar production and integration into fungal cultivation.
  • Mycorrhizal cultivation and application for food and forest plant health.
  • Age appropriate mycology lessons and projects for children.
  • Medicinal mushroom processing.
  • Ethnomycology and the utilitarian uses of fungi.
  • Field guides to common and uncommon fungi.
  • Hunting endangered mushrooms & lichens for forest protection.
  • Using DIY biohacker tools for advanced mycological work.
  • Edible mushroom recipes
  • Insights into the modern subculture of mycogeeks and freaks.
  • Fungal biology & ecology.
  • Mushroomy games and jokes.
  • Original art, charts, and diagrams.
  • Much more!

The book is estimated to be at least 400 pages once complete but may very well exceed that goal. It is projected to be finished and published by the summer of 2014. The book will be paperback and mainly black and white, with a color plate center section. Contributors will receive regular updates on the progress of the book as it develops.

The $18,000 goal set for this campaign will not only fund the book’s printing & distribution, it will also fund a Radical Mycology tour in North America for late 2014 when the book comes out. Once the book is published, a percentage of the profits from the book will go toward a fund to support independent remediation research and installation projects around the world.

The $18,000 goal for this book is broken down into three main categories:


  • Indiegogo’s cut + IRS taxes: $4,000
  • Creating and shipping campaign non-book perks: estimated at $1,000
  • Stipend – Peter will be working full time on the book for 6-9 months. This stipend will help cover his modest living expenses during that time: $3,000


  • LLC formation and legal organization: $1,000
  • Developmental and Copy editing: $1,000
  • Printing (depending on demand and ultimate book length): estimated at $2,500
  • ISBN Securement: $500

Marketing & Distribution

  • Online and Print promotion (pre and post campaign): $1,000
  • A 2-3 month road show of the US and Canada in the summer of 2014 to talk about the book, hold workshops (with RM contributors and affiliated colleagues), and build a Radical Mycology community. This will include gas and other transportation fees, food, promotion, and venue rental fees. We will be relying on friends, associates, and fellow mycophiles to host us along the way to help cut costs. This will likely take up the remaining money.
  • E-Book Conversion: $250
  • Warehousing and distribution: $1,000

If we surpass our $18,000 minimum goal we have the following stretch goals to make this project even more awesome and to extend the Radical Mycology values and build community around the world:

All of the Radical Mycology tour will be documented and will become part of a Radical Mycology documentary as a part of a future crowdfunding campaign.

Anything beyond these goals will fund the translation of the Radical Mycology Book into other languages.

All donors will receive regular updates on the progress of the book. These emails will include links to interesting articles and resources on the books topics, video updates and how-to’s from the author, and sneak previews of the book’s art and designs.

The perks listed on the side bar describe what the different donation tiers will receive. Of special note are the following items:

A mushroom cultivation beginner pack – This cultivation starter kit will include the following items to begin applying the cultivation skills found in the Radical Mycology book:

  • Blank petri dish (1)
  • 60mL syringe and 16ga needle (1 each)
  • Mushroom spawn grow bags (5)
  • Airport injection lids (2)
  • Falcon test tubes (5)
  • Parafilm strip (5)

Mushroom species uses and cultivation requirements reference chart – A cross reference poster listing over 30 fungal species, their cultivation requirements, cooking/preserving tips, medicinal value, uses in the garden, uses for rehabilitating damaged environments, and more.

Mushroom cultivation courseThis course is the same that Peter has taught multiple times in the US and Canada, typically for $200 per person. Covering the theory, practice, and applications of mushroom cultivation this course covers many of the topics included in the Radical Mycology book in a hands-on approach. Donors will be able to invite up to 29 other people to join the course. However, if donors choose to charge for it, they will not be permitted to charge more than $200 per person (this is to keep this information relatively cheap and accessible for those that need it). Backers will be responsible for promotion of the course and venue rental. These courses will be scheduled to take place during the Radical Mycology road show during the summer of 2014. Subject matter and myco-installations done during the courses can be custom tailored to donor needs.

This book is also unique in its approach to mycology. This book emphasizes the simplest, cheapest, and more appropriate and practical applications of mycology to many aspects of daily life, both for individuals and larger communities.

This book will explore fungi of all types, from symbiotic mycorrhizal and endophtic species, to molds that ferment foods, to lichens, to the familiar 3-D fruitbodies we call mushrooms. As the topic list above shows, the book will also show the many practical and useful ways that fungi can be used in everyday life. This book will provide the means to make these skills accessible to all. The Radical Mycology book will be filled with illustrations and graphics to best depict abstract concepts and challenging skills thus providing a visual language for developing a grassroots mycological community.

We believe that this book will provide a one-stop resource for diving into the world of mycology and we think the Radical Mycology project is in a special place to produce such a book due to the resources we have available to us.

Over the years, the Radical Mycology project has built a rather large network of expert mycologists and advisers along with a supportive community of like-minded mushroom lovers and environmental justice advocates. In writing this book, we will not only provide our perspectives as the founders of the Radical Mycology project but also include the ideas and insights of those who have allied with us along the way. We do not see this idea as ours, but something that should and will inevitably grow of its own. Radical Mycology is not just about pushing one perspective, it is about creating a paradigm shift in the relationship most people (at least in the West) have with fungi from one of fear and misunderstanding to one of appreciation, respect, and allyship.

Beyond contributing to this campaign financially, there are several great ways you can help promote this project to your friends and networks:

Social (Mycelial) Networking:
Please link and share this project on any social networks you are on!

Here is a short link to this campaign for easy linking:

“Like” Radical Mycology on Facebook:

Share this campaign on Facebook:

Or Tweet about the campaign:

Blogs, Podcasts, & Newsletters:
Write about Radical Mycology, the Radical Mycology Convergence, or this Indiegogo campaign on your blog or in your newsletter. Peter would be happy to do an interview or contribute content to help make this happen. Please contact him through Indiegogo to set up an interview.

Several perks have additional shipping costs for backers outside the US. These rates were based on the average costs of shipping to several countries. Canadian rates are slightly less.

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Radical Mycology Book Fundraiser launches today!

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Why Radical Mycology?

Access to mycological information is not easy. With a cultural view that fears fungi, a schooling system that undervalues them, and only a small number of courses on advanced mycology worldwide, it is easy to see why the fifth kingdom is so disregarded and misunderstood. As one of the youngest natural sciences, mycology (the study of fungi) has largely been kept in the hands of professionals since its development with much of the official work focusing simply on taxonomy and species edibility/toxicity. However, in the last few decades (and really just the last few years) the greater fungi have started to gain more acceptance and familiarity to those outside of academia as their uses beyond the dinner plate are starting to be realized.

It is surprising to note that most people do not realize that fungi are not only on, in and a part of all living (and once-living) things but that they play an extremely important role in the life cycle of plants as well. Acting like stewards of the forest, certain fungi create complex networks of “mycelium” (that white stuff you see when you pull back a decaying log) underground that serve to channel nutrients and water between plants and to help maintain the health of entire ecosystems. The fungi are also responsible for the decomposition of all woody material, turning dead plant matter in to fresh soil for new plants to thrive in. Without the fungi the world would be piled high in dead trees with no new ones growing.

In the last decade or so, mycologists have discovered that the same enzymes that fungi naturally produce to digest their food can also be used to break down toxic pollutants and petroleum products. Species have been discovered that can digest plastics, disposable diapers, motor oil, DDT, and Agent Orange as well as sequester and concentrate heavy metals out of polluted soil for later disposal. This emerging field of “mycoremediation” has only barely gained a foundation from which to grow on as in-depth research and experimentation in the last few years has been scant at best and suppressed at worst. As such a powerful ally in the fight to save the planet before ecological collapse, the fungi are now more worthy of investigation than ever before*. Thus, radical mycologists are organizing to foster a community of people interested in developing and implementing mycoremediative techniques to provide a resource for peer learning and encouragement.

Through the use of fungi to enact change, we are attempting to radically challenge assumptions about the importance of the fungal kingdom in an effort to help shift our relationship to the Earth toward greater harmony.

* This is not to say this information addresses the problem of eliminating the manufacturing of these products. Rather it provides a way to actually deal with existing problems alongside efforts to stop their proliferation.

(The above text is excerpted/adapted from the “Reportback on the first ever Radical Mycology Convergence”)

What is Mycoremediation?

Mycoremediation is the use of fungi to break down or remove toxins from the environment.

The build up of toxic chemicals and heavy metals in the environment is an ever increasing and serious problem. These toxins threaten humans, animals, and the present ecosystem.

Mycoremediation practices involve mixing mycelium (the vegetative part of a fungus) into contaminated soil, placing mycelial mats over toxic sites, or a combination of these techniques, in one or more treatments. The lead researcher in this field is mycologist Paul Stamets. The information presented in this document comes from his book “Mycelium Running -How Mushrooms Can Save the World”.

Fungi can be thought of as the primary governors of ecological equilibrium because they control the flow of nutrients. The strength and health of any ecosystem is a direct measure of its divers fungal populations and their interaction with other organisms such as plants insects and bacteria. Using fungi as the starter species in a bioremediation project sets the stage for other organisms to participate in the rehabilitation process. Once toxic barriers are removed by specific mushrooms, a synergy between at least 4 kingdoms (fungus, plant, bacterium, and animal) enters the habitat and denatures toxins into derivatives that are useful to many species and fatal to few species. The introduction of a single fungus into a nearly lifeless landscape triggers a flow of activity by other organism and begins to replenish the ecosystem.

Mycoremediation is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to extracting, transporting and storing toxic waste. It restores value to depleted land. The current policy concerning toxic waste removal/clean up prescribes burning, hauling, and/or burying the waste. The results of these processes do not get rid of the waste or restore the ecology, but cripple it and leave it lifeless. Toxins in our food chain (including mercury, PCB’s, and dioxins) become more concentrated at each step, with those at the top being contaminated by ingesting toxins consumed by those lower on the food chain. Mycelia can destroy these toxins in the soil before they enter our food supply.

Researchers have been able to customize strains of mushrooms to neutralize toxic weapons and waste. Research is being done to use mycoremediation in the field of national defense against chemical and biological warfare. This also births the opportunity to use mycoremediation to help mend war-torn environments.

Fungi are proficient molecular disassemblers breaking down long chained toxins into simpler less toxic chemicals. They remove heavy metals from land by channeling them to fruit bodies for removal. they essentially use and digest these toxins as nutrients. Mycelial enzymes can decompose some of the most resistant materials made by humans or nature, because many of the bonds that hold plant material together are similar to the bonds found in petroleum products including diesal, oil, and many herbicides and pesticides. these toxins also including textile dyes, estrogen-based pharmaceuticals and etc.. are vulnerable to enzymes secreted by the mycelia. some mushroom species can degrade several of these, while other are more selective.

Read more…

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