Rosa Kieft

Fungi Mutarium

A prototype for turning plastic into edible fungi

The mycelium of some fungi is capable of growing on and even digesting plastics. This fact triggered Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger from Livin Studio to start the research and design project Fungi Mutarium: a prototype of a future home device that recycles plastic into food.


Fungi Mutarium - Fungi Mutarium by Livin Studio

Livin Studio strongly believes we need to revolutionize our food production. Their former project involved an micro insect farm developing back soldier flies from birth into an edible protein provider. For the Fungi Mutarium they teamed up with the micro biologists of the University of Utrecht.

Julia and Katharina were mainly working with the fungi Schizophyllum Commune and Pleurotus Ostreatus, not only because of their possibility to grow on plastics but also because they are commonly eaten. They are found throughout the world and can be seen on a wide range of timbers and many other plant-based substrates virtually anywhere in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia.


Process of the agar shapes of Fungi Mutarium - By Livin Studio LIVIN Studio

The little outside shapes are grown from agar: a seaweed based gelatin substitute mixed with starch and sugar. These ingredients are the nutrient base for the fungi to grow on. Then a piece of plastic is inserted after it is sterilized by a UV light. After inserting the plastic a liquid mycelium is added. The mycelium colonizes the agar shapes and finally is potentially edible.

Right now the project is still a conceptual design that would ask for more research to bring it beyond the prototype.

Katharina Unger gave a Biotalk:Digestopians about the Fungi Mutarium at Mediamatic on January 15, 2015.