Mushroom Bioaccumulation:
Current Perspectives and Future Research Needs

Leif Olson

Fungi are effective facilitators of chemical transport through ecosystems because of their vast mycelial networks and the ability to move nutrients and pollutants from their environment into their mushroom fruiting bodies. While there is clear evidence of the hyperaccumulation of certain nutrients and heavy metals in mushrooms, bioaccumulation is highly variable between different chemicals and species of fungi. Additionally, for many organic pollutants, which are often the focus of mycoremediation discussions, very little data exists on the mushroom sequestration and in some cases there are not even established protocols for how to test for them.

This presentation will cover the mycelial uptake and transport of chemicals from environmental matrices to mushroom fruiting bodies then review the current understanding, or lack of understanding of which minerals, nutrients, heavy metals, and organic pollutants are stored well in mushrooms. The implications of this topic are wide reaching, from cultivating mineral fortified mushrooms to risks of foraging mushrooms in contaminated environments to ecological consequences of food web toxicity from mushroom hyperaccumulation.

About the Teacher
Leif is an environmental scientist and mushroom cultivator based out of Brevard, NC. He explores the interrelations between ecological health, human health, food production, environmental contamination and the restoration of degraded landscapes. Leif’s work has ranged from the quantitative analytical study of environmental contamination, to developing community based sustainable agriculture systems. He currently works as a mushroom cultivator and waste manager for Pisgah Gourmet, and is part of a collaborative effort to design and implement mycoremediation projects and research with Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain and Daniel Reyes of Myco Alliance.  He has received degrees from University of California at Santa Cruz and Duke University. His overarching goals are to use the lessons of nature to improve the human experience, and to promote a more elegant and aesthetically pleasing existence.