Entrepreneurial mycologist Paul Stamets seeks to rescue the study of mushrooms from forest gourmets and psychedelic warlords. The focus of Stamets’ research is the Northwest’s native fungal genome, mycelium. Paul has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.
There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet. Bet you didn’t know that humans are closer to fungi than any other botanical organism on the planet.
This was one of the best talks at TED2008. Enjoy Stamets’ fabulous vision of a microbial universe where fungal-based antibiotics, a mycileum Internet, ultra-efficient insecticides, and mushroom energy harvesting are just the beginning.