London: Austrian researchers have developed a working model of an incubator that uses fungi to break down waste plastic and turn it into edible nutritious food.
In collaboration with Utrecht University, designers Katharina Unger and Julia Kaisinger of Livin Studio, have developed a working model of the incubator, called the ''Fungi Mutarium'', that takes parts of mushrooms that are usually left uneaten and grows them into fresh food using waste plastic.
The Fungi Mutarium grows edible fungal biomass, mainly the mycelia - the thread-like body of the fungus which contains proteins and minerals, 'The Local' reported.
The mycelium is cultivated on specifically designed agar shapes, which the researchers call FU.
Agar is a seaweed based gelatin substitute and acts, when mixed with starch and sugar, as a nutrient base for the fungi.
The FUs are filled with waste plastic, which has been sterilised with UV light - a process which also speeds up the degradation process of the plastic, making it easier for the fungi to feed off it.
Fungi sprouts in a liquid nitrogen solution are then inserted in the FU. They digest the plastic and grow on the surface of the FU.
"We worked with fungi named Schizophyllum Commune and Pleurotus Ostreatus. They are found throughout the world and can be seen on a wide range of timbers and many other plant-based substrates virtually anywhere in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia," Unger said.