Science: When mushrooms begin to paint pictures

Some mushrooms can be controlled to create messages and even pictures on wood. Scientists study the phenomenon with a specific purpose:

St. Gallen

Wood rot fungi can be controlled in such a way that images such as sunsets or even letters are created in the wood grain. This was made possible at the Federal Institute for Testing and Research in Materials (Empa), which presented its results on Thursday. An image of a sunset in the sea can be seen on a piece of wood, and on another piece the letters E mpa are in a rather cursive, but easy to read script.

[Pinpoll]

But the background is not make the next Picasso mushroom. Instead, the team around Francis Schwartz, who researches cellulose and wood materials, is investigating how local timbers are upgraded to build furniture.

Knowledge of mushrooms should help in furniture production

The team succeeded in treating hardwoods such as ash, beech and maple in mushroom plantations in a targeted manner so that the fine grains appear in the wood. These types of trees are rarely used in furniture so far due to the irregular shape of their growth, but also because of their unattractive coloring.

Read more: Liver damage and coma after mushroom poisoning

According to Empa, the grain in the wood is the result of a fierce battle. “Lines mark the boundaries where different cultures of mushrooms have collided and where lands and resources in lumber quarrel,” the institute said. Depending on the mix of mushroom species and special control, the team was specifically able to create dark streaks with the mushrooms.

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Mold fungi were used, which can colonize wood even when the wood’s moisture content is low. As a result, little energy was required to dry the wood even after the fungus was treated, and the wood’s stability and shape were also maintained.

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