Mushrooms might save the world—if they don’t kill us first

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Scientists are also researching fungal enzymes and their ability to recycle trash and remediate damaged earth. In 2011, researchers published a much-discussed paper on isolates of the rare fungus Pestalotiopsis microspora, which has a hankering for polyurethane, a durable plastic that appears in roller coaster wheels, modern art, and lots of stuff in between. Numerous studies suggest that mushrooms, which naturally absorb toxins, including heavy metals, can be used intentionally to clean polluted soils.

Ultimately, we must strike a delicate balance with our mushroom brethren. They can certainly help us reduce our carbon footprint and heal our ailing minds, but mycological history makes one thing abundantly clear: Fungi can be downright fearsome.

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