What is it about?

There is an emerging field of growing edible mushrooms from fungi that grow with living trees. Known as edible ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), their cultivation involves planting young, inoculated saplings and creating new woodland. Using data from a range of sources, we quantified the potential of the approach across all the world's forested regions and show that 858 kg of carbon could be sequestered (stored) for every kilogram of protein produced. Our nine major food production categories actually release greenhouse gases during their production, so the climate-change mitigating ability of EMF cultivation is unique. Finally, we calculated that if this approach had been combined with forestry activities of the past 10 years, we could now be producing enough food to feed 18.9million people annually and without having to cultivate more land.

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Why is it important?

Globally, deforestation is still occurring rapidly and at an unsustainable pace. Demand for agricultural land is the main reason for deforestation, but here we show a way to prevent this land-use conflict. Cultivating EMF with tree planting, means that we can scale up both afforestation rates and food production, on the same parcel of land. This has huge implications from helping to mitigate climate change to improving food security and production of a carbon-negative food. Further benefits include ecosystem services, such as flood mitigation and contribution to biodiversity and conservation goals.


This is a truly exciting approach that, in addition to the mentioned benefits, could also help trigger socio-economic development in rural areas. With such huge benefits, we must do all we can to pursue such avenues, and we need more researchers to join the field. In addition, support from relevant agencies is going to be pivotal in taking this emerging technology and developing it to a level where it can be implemented globally, for the benefit of all.

Paul Thomas
University of Stirling

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Edible fungi crops through mycoforestry, potential for carbon negative food production and mitigation of food and forestry conflicts, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2220079120.
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