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Wednesday, August 17 • 9:00am - 5:00pm
Workshop: Soil Centered Myco Remediation w/ Lauren Czaplicki

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Soil-centered Mycoremediation Workshop

In this short-course, folks explore the mycoremediation capacity of the entire kingdom of fungi, how the wood rotting fungi and beyond use their abilities to degrade tough pollutants, and how to tailor an approach to a pollution problem! Participants will "think like a fun-gi or fun-gal" and discover intuitively how fungi mycoremediate different toxins.

1. History of Mycoremediation: The "Unrottable" Utility Poles Rotted
This discussion centers on how fungi revealed their mycoremediation potential when the supposedly unrottable wooden poles rotted. These utility poles, along with railroad ties and wood used for shipbuilding, were preserved with creosote. Creosote happens to be a mixture of more than 35 different toxins. Unbeknownst to the people preserving the wood products, these toxins are too similar in chemical structure to wood to thwart the wood rotting fungi. [visual aid: utility pole fungi of the south, p86 https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf1985/zabel85a.pdf ]

2. Mushrooms: Delicious and Useful
This discussion aims to connect the familiar fungi of medicinal and culinary interest to the white rotters and brown rotters of mycoremediation fame. Many of the fungi that produce edible mushrooms are categorized by mycologists as white rot or brown rot fungi. These entirely overlap with the group first discovered to break down the toxins attempting to preserve the utility poles! [activity: favorite fungi and their dual potential]

3. What Can't White Rotters Do?
This discussion explores the body of research from the 1980s that showed the breadth of chemicals that white rotters can degrade. Since they were discovered to degrade creosote, a mixture of super toxic chemicals, folks were curious about what else they could break down. They found that they could degrade preservatives, explosives, dry cleaning chemicals, PCBs, and even sequester heavy and radioactive metals!

4. Can Other Fungi Degrade Pollutants Too?
This discussion explores how fungi from all major fungal groups have been found to degrade pollutants. Though less studied than their white-rotter cousins, these fungi have such great potential. We'll take a theoretical foray through the mycoremediation capacity of Chytrids, Ascomycetes, and the more cryptic yet charismatic basal lineages. [visual aid: figure based on information presented in Figure 2, https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro2519]

5. How Can We Coax Fungi to Break Down Toxins for Us?
This discussion explores how we can leverage what we know about fungal ecology to "think like a fun-gi/fun-gal" and feed them what they need to break down pollutants. Here we explore a case study or two where mycoremediation has been used.

6. Aside from Cleaning Up Pollutants, Can Fungi Fight Climate Change?
Fungi are also useful in restoring fire prone forests and can potentially reduce the number of catastrophic wildfires and the mudslides that result from them! This discussion explores cutting edge research into mycoremediation in the context of Colorado's wildfires and wildfires in the West.

(Schedule is subject to change.)

9:00 AM Checking In
9:30 AM Welcome and Introduction: Dr. Lauren Czaplicki
9:45 AM History of Mycoremediation: The Tale of How the "Unrottable" Utility Poles Rotted and Started Everything
10:25 AM Group Activity- Thinking like Brown and White Rotters
10:45 AM Mushrooms: The Delicious and The Useful10:25 AM Group Activity- The Dual Potential of Favorite Mushrooms
11:45 AM What Can't White Rotters Do?
11:25 AM Group Activity- On Site Challenges
12:45 PM Lunch
1:45 PM Mycoremediation Beyond the White Rot Fungi
1:25 PM Group Activity- Connecting Lifestyles to Degradation Potential
2:45 PM How Can We Coax Fungi to Break Down Toxins for Us?
3:25 PM Group Activity- Fungal Nutrition
3:45 PM 15 min break
4:00 PM Aside from Cleaning Up Pollutants, Can Fungi Fight Climate Change?
4:30 PM Group Activity- Fungal functions and wildfire restoration
4:45 PM Closing Remarks
5:00 PM Social Industrial-to-Artistic Community Contributions: A Walking Tour Through Telluride's Historic Brownfields and Future Restoration

avatar for Lauren Czaplicki

Lauren Czaplicki

Science by Design, Boulder CO
Dr. Lauren Czaplicki is an environmental engineer, mycologist, science communicator, and entrepreneur based out of Longmont, CO. She is passionate about finding new ways to use fungi to mitigate our impact on the environment. She takes a DNA-based approach to identifying fungal communities... Read More →

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:00am - 5:00pm MDT
Transfer Warehouse 201 S Fir St, Telluride, CO 81435