A Further Exploration of Mycelium, SCOBY, and Art

This week’s lesson was incredibly fascinating! I enrolled late, so this was quite an exciting introduction to the course. The part that stuck out to me most was learning about howcomplicated mushrooms are. I am an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast, so I actually did previously learn about how tree roots are connected and sort of ‘feed’ one another. What I didn’t know was that mushrooms have these connections, also called mycelium. After doing some more research on these complex fungal threads, they can actually grow in rotting tree trunks on top of growing underground, they are known as the heroes of the earth because of their ability to break down organic material, and it is actually considered the largest organism on earth (https://www.micropia.nl/en/discover/microbiology/mycelium/). These are truly such interesting organisms!
I also really appreciated the idea of relating organisms such as this to artwork. It is easy to see a mushroom as simply that; just a mushroom - one day being chopped up and put in an omelet never to be thought about again, or otherwise just a type of bacteria that could be dangerous. But, there really is beauty in it. Other than the examples we learned about in class including faux leather production, I found some really creative artwork on Etsy as well. A lamp made with mycelium and hemp:


https://www.etsy.com/listing/974895392/mycelium-mycolight?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_sear
ch_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=mycelium+art&ref=sr_gallery-1-3&organi
c_search_click=1


A beautiful print of mycelium:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/1195460308/mycelium-and-the-mother?ga_order=most_relevant&g
a_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=mycelium+art&ref=sr_gallery-1-8
&organic_search_click=1


Mycelium are physically interesting and beautiful, as they produce an interesting design that actually somewhat mimics the neural network system as pictured below. As a psychology major, I do not have too much of a STEM background, though I learned about the brain quite a bit. When learning about these mycelium networks, I immediately thought of how they physically resemble the work of neurons firing and talking to each other to create messages for the brain. Humans and plants really aren’t too different after all.

Cognitive-boosting electrical stimulation is influenced by brain  connectivity | Imperial News | Imperial College London

(Fig. 1)

Here is a video of neurons firing to communicate for a better visual example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NVemVHOR20.Not only that, but I also recently took a Social Networking course which also greatly resembles the mycelium network. Below is a screenshot of one of my assignments.

(Figure 2)
It is remarkable just how interconnected so many disciplines including psychology, communications, and plants can truly be.


Regarding the other main topic of the lecture, SCOBY was so interesting to learn about. I am an avid kombucha drinker, so it was interesting to see the kombucha SCOBY in class. I also got one of the kits, so I am excited to try growing my own! I hope more research is conducted in this field as there are so many misconceptions about Kombucha right now. So many health brands are advertising all these positive effects of drinking kombucha, when in reality, as we learned, that may not be the case, and may be entirely harmful if made incorrectly or ingested in too much a quantity. After reading a bit more about it, I learned that home-brewed Kombucha is really where the dangers lie, though if made incorrectly by anyone, which is quite possible, maybe incredibly harmful especially to young kids, pregnant women, and those who are immunocompromised. Rose Ann Gould Soloway, Clinical Toxicologist goes so far as to say the health benefits are not proven, though there are multiple risks including death(https://www.poison.org/articles/kombucha-tea). It is important to understand what is truly beneficial and what is just something some companies are pushing that will give them profit.

Lastly, I absolutely loved the art exhibition we saw. Though all were equally as impressive and beautiful, my favorite has to be the stained glass window.