Filamentous fungi are capable of colonising various fibre-rich residues. In doing so they create a complex network of mycelium that strongly enmeshes the substrate. This can be used to make fibre-boards and even fungal biocomposites bricks. Another potential use is for soil barriers that can prevent erosion and adsorb unwanted compounds or small particles. Currently fibre from shredded pine or eucalypts is used to create material for these barriers commercially. The addition of chitin and chitosan, present in fungal cell walls, could significantly improve the barrier potential of this fibrous material.
In this project we will culture fungi known to aggressively colonise fibrous material (Ganoderma and Pleurotus strains) as well as a Rhyzopus strain (high chitosan:chitin ratio). We will assess grains and waste nitrogen sources (DDG) for fungal inoculum production, and various fibrous residues (bagasse, shredded pine and eucalyptus), to generate a chitin/chitosan-rich fibrous mat.