Mycology 101: Biology of Fungi & Cultivation Basics

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This is a comprehensive intro to mycology as a science and practice. We will cover fungal biology that helps truly understand this kingdom in new and novel ways. Whether you are simply myco-curious, a hobbiest mushroom grower, a researcher looking for new inspiration or work with fungi as a material, art form, etc — this course is for you. 


We will go beyond the grow kit. We won't just fruit mushrooms. We will discuss the fascinating biology behind these cryptic beings and how to work with them.


We'll learn to to grow Bioluminescent mushrooms, living mushroom sculptures, and edible mushrooms. The class is made for beginners but lends its value to intermediate and even advanced cultivators. We will go over basic techniques for growing most fungi, identify full circle cultivation needs, discuss novel applications, and pose compelling questions.


Instructor: Lera Niemackl


Day 1: Mycology 101 & Culturing

Most of day one will be cover the fundamentals of fungal biology. What is a fungus? How are we similar? How are we different? Big questions, interesting answers. This will be followed by a demo for how to start fungal cultures from wild mushrooms, store bought mushrooms, spores, or purchased cultures.

  • Aseptic technique and making a clean space
  • Vectors of contamination
  • Making agar plates
  • Cloning and propagating fungus
  • How to store cultures for the long term


Day 2: Cultivation Methods & Expanding Cultures  

Fungi and mushrooms respond readily to their environments. Today's class is going to be about various techniques you can use to influence the characteristics of your fungi. 

  • Preparing sawdust brick substrates for inoculation
  • How to inoculate with grain spawn
  • Agar > grain spawn inoculations
  • An overview of alternative methods to growing fungi i.e. making liquid culture, sterilizing and pasteurizing substrate with a pressure cooker
  • Identifying and mitigating contamination


Day 3: Mycology in Biotech 

Where to go from here? Working with fungi for whatever purpose, especially beyond agriculture, is a new endeavor. We will discuss creative and precocious applications of fungi in the biotechnology world, and how you can participate at home. The demo will show best practices for how to move your sawdust bags into different vessels if you choose to fruit your mushrooms outside of the filter bags.

  • Long term storage of cultures and specimens
  • Makeshift fruiting chambers 


Materials provided:

  • Dissection kit
  • Petri plates
  • MEA Agar with Kanamycin
  • Gloves
  • Glass bottle 
  • Parafilm
  • Pre-sterilized grain spawn x4
  • Sawdust bricks x4
  • Filter bags x4
  • Masks
  • Zip ties
  • Liquid culture syringes including: Bioluminescent Panellus stipticus, Sculptural Ganoderma multipileum, and edible Pleurotus sp.


Materials NOT provided:

  • Isopropyl alcohol <70% 
  • Paper towels