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Fungi & Fungal Systems

Fungi Systems for a resilient Switzerland

How can we use mushrooms and fungal systems to make the food system as a whole healthy and sustainable?

The topics of mushrooms, mushroom mycelium and fermentation have enormous potential for food and also for agriculture. There are already numerous players in this field in Switzerland. The production of edible mushrooms is widely known. However, there are many other areas of application. From the soil microbiome, plant and root systems to fermented foods (tempeh, kochi,...) and applications in pharmacology, building materials, packaging or textiles. In this group we bring together those interested in this field from practice and research. The aim is to work together on new ideas and possibilities and to change the food system.

Ideas for the application and use of fungi systems were collected in the context of the NTN InnovationBooster in an open idea submission on the topic of "Fungi Systems".

All ideas can be seen here

On 8 September, the first meeting of the Swiss Fungi Innovation Community took place. Bringing together key players from industry and research was a first step towards closer interaction within this ecosystem.

In selected presentations and workshops, the topic was examined from different angles.

Prof. Jürg Grunder from the ZHAW opened the meeting with his holistic project "Food from Wood" - a hybrid system in which wood is first broken down by edible mushrooms. The mushrooms can be harvested and sold. The "rotten" wood then serves as a substrate for breeding insects in the next step. The insects can then be used as animal feed. The substrate residue together with insect excretions then serves as valuable fertiliser.

King Oyster Filet & Vitamin D food supplement made from mushroom waste - Cécile Villiger, Fine Funghi AG
Fine Funghi AG produces fine mushrooms. The question arises as to how mushrooms that have grown too large or are not so visually appealing can be reused. The idea is to cut them into shapes that can be easily fried and look like fillets, fish fingers or mussels. Nuggets could also be made from them. Another idea deals with exposing the unused mushrooms and mushroom parts to UV light and thus producing vitamin D in the mushroom parts. Dried and ground, this can then be sold as a natural "vitamin D powder".

Simple and sustainable methods for growing and introducing new gourmet and medicinal mushrooms to the Swiss food market - Christophe Bauer & Nicolas Pruvost

The organisation Swiss Fungi wants to bring the knowledge about mushrooms and mushroom cultivation to a wider audience. It should be possible for everyone to access the knowledge and also to grow mushrooms themselves with simple means. Courses and learning materials are available for this purpose. For mushroom cultivation, there should be liquid cultures and substrate kits so that inoculation and growth can take place safely and reliably.

How mushrooms & mushroom systems can help to build a sustainable AgroFood system - Mark Stüttler, Tyroler Glueckspilze & Mushroom Research Centre Austria

In the overview lecture by Mark Stüttler, the manifold possibilities offered by mushroom systems were shown. The MRCA (Mushroom Research Center Austria) also has a large culture & spore collection of various mushrooms. The cold system was presented as a new and highly productive cultivation method. Normal cereal straw is used as a substrate. By humidification and addition of chlorine and lime and compaction, the environment is optimally prepared for the fungi. The improved starting conditions enable rapid colonisation and thermal sterilisation of the substrate is not necessary. The application of different CO2 atmospheres during the growth phase allows the targeted formation of fruiting bodies.

In subsequent workshops, the challenges and opportunities presented by fungal systems were then worked out. It became apparent that the regulatory side in particular poses the greatest hurdles to the widespread use of mushrooms and applications of mushroom systems. Both Novel Food and Nagoya Agreement have to be considered here. Easy access to a wide variety of fungal cultures and their comprehensive characterisation is also a major obstacle. In the fungal field, there is an opportunity to make genetic material available in an "open access to source" approach. New ways of making the material available could be explored.

All presentations and the results from the workshops can be found below.

We would like to thank all speakers, the Avina Foundation and Innosuisse for their support.

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