TED 2008: Paul Stamets on how mushrooms can help the world


24 Responses to “TED 2008: Paul Stamets on how mushrooms can help the world”

  1. Joel Johnson says:

    Hey, Stamets! I can’t wait until this talk is up for streaming. I grew mushrooms indoors last year and it was pretty easy, although my oyster kit stopped producing after one flush. I should do that again this year.

  2. grobertson says:

    Since when are antibiotics effective against the flu?

  3. Takuan says:

    nothing about psilocybin?

  4. togetherless says:

    yes. this is all very exciting. can someone please teach mycologists to speel and use gramar chekand edit tols for bad apprnceto intllegnt mke seem?

  5. Takuan says:

    they can spell fine, they’ve been sampling the cubensis

  6. help i cant comfirm my username themelonbread says:

    Badger badger badger badger badger badger badger…

  7. kgander says:

    Regarding psilocybin, Stamets literally wrote the book on the subject:
    Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World.

    Legal issues related to psilocybes are probably why he didn’t mention them, but his website does have page on them: Reply

  • AaronZ says:

    At what point can we just rename BoingBoing to TedTed?
    I miss the regular BB posts.
    I’ll come back in a week.

  • pauldrye says:

    Fungi might be the first plants on land if, you know, they were actually plants. Fungi are fungi, genetically closer to animals than plants.

  • Benjamin says:

    I know a man that already knew fungi could help save the world…

    … that man is Mario.

  • Keith says:

    The George Washington Carver of fungi, cool!

  • gerta says:

    Seriously, as per #2, fungi are very much not plants. Please tell me that a mycologists did not confuse this. Furthermore, finding “fungi” on other planets is not even remotely a foregone conclusion. Fungi derive from a long ecological and evolutionary history, in which they are only relative newcomers compared with bacterial and other unicellular forerunners. Furthermore, they’re heterotrophic. The recent finding that a few fungi may (perhaps, possibly, kinda sorta) use radioactive energy still has nothing on the light and chemical energy capture practiced by other organisms.

  • jamesgyre says:

    this post from cake and anrachy details discusses how awesome mushrooms are, including a link to a project where people used oyster mushrooms to CLEAN UP OIL SPILLS… WOW.


  • goatberg says:

    I have a feeling that the talk Stamets gave at TED this year is basically this talk:

    If you want some clarification regarding Mark’s notes, check it out.

    And here’s another talk of his from 1999 available for streaming:

  • redindiangrrl says:

    Somehow I have always known this to be true!!!

  • Ross says:

    Mark – thanks for your TedTed posts, I’ve been enjoying them!

    @Gerta – no way did Stamets miss this point, he’s one of our nation’s foremost authorities on fungi. He’s been ahead of the curve on mycology for years and years.

    And yes, he’s right, Fungi could save the world from all this human-generated polution — just one case in point — the state of WA had a contest to clean up heavily petrochemical-saturated soil using whatever means necessary.

    Bacteria did okay, but the lowly Oyster mushroom blew the competition away. It actually broke down the toxic chemicals down very effectively… a term Stamets refers to as mycoremediation. His principle of mycoforestation will be very important in repairing clear-cut and threatened forests as well…

    His research is amazing – Carry on Paul!

  • rblakem says:

    typo: “their” are redundant paths.

  • farmfoodie says:

    Yes, Stamets rocks. And I agree there’s no way he called them plants. Reporter error. His book Mycelium Running with blow your mind. Repeatedly. Every few pages in fact.

  • digit says:

    mushroom walks into a bar
    bartender says ‘we dont serve your kind’
    mushroom says ‘aww why not? im a fungi…’

  • Jeff says:

    “Fungi uses radiation as a source of energy, so the possibility of fungi existing on other planets is a “forgone conclusion.”

    I don’t think there is anything Forgone about it all. You can only draw a conclusion from facts. The only facts we have thus far tell us that life only exists on Earth, or when WE visit other places. The Moon may me made of cheese, but it’s not the kind with fungi in it.

  • remotecontrolyoyo says:

    I thought boingboing reader’s might be interested in learning about how Stamets’s mycoremediation techniques are being applied in the Ecuadorian Amazon to begin the clean up of 18.5 billion gallons of petroleum waste dumped by Texaco over the last several decades. The (interim) website of the Amazon Mycorenewal Project is here:


    This week I will be in Lago Agrio, the site of much of the oil contamination, to set up the next phase of our project. To check in with us and view bimonthly updates and pictures, check out my blog here:


  • farmfoodie says:

    If I’m not mistaken, it was Stamets who did much of the work breeding that oyster mushroom that could clean up oil. The mushroom wasn’t genetically engineered. He just started breeding them by gradually adding more and more petrol to the growing media through subsequent generations. Several generations on, he had oyster mushrooms that thought petroleum was lunch.

  • mycophage says:

    Ditto. Fungi are not plants. Definite reporter error. Time for a boingboing strikethrough correction! :-)

  • ill lich says:

    Bumper sticker seen in my neighborhood: “Mycology is mushrooming.”

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