Mushrooms vs Heavy Metals and Cesium

The following images depict a chart with a partial list of mushrooms that absorb heavy metals and cesium from the environment, as well as the mushrooms named in the list that are hyperaccumulators of the compounds (i.e., those with a number beside the "X").

Mushrooms and Metals: Bioaccumulation of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury

Mushrooms concentrate many metals. Just as biologists do not know why Psilocybe mushrooms manufacture hallucinogenic phosphorus-based compounds, we do not know why other species concentrate heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, cesium, lead, mercury, and copper....So far,about 2 dozen species are known as hyperaccumulators as indicated in the chart on page 106. When it is known, I indicate the mushroom's bioaccumulation factor, or how many times more concentrated a metal is compared to the background level. The mushrooms with an X but no coefficient multiplier accumulate, but evidence thus far does not clearly tell us how much....One word of caution regarding interpreting the above tables; considerable variation has been found, and is to be expected, between samples. Mycorrhizal fungi, in particular, may show great variation depending upon the age of the colony tested. The longer the mycelium is in direct contact with the soil containing heavy metals, the greater the absorption into the mycelia. Younger mycorrhizal colonies are likely to bioaccumulate less than will colonies of longer residence and larger size. This is partly due to the fact that mycorrhizal fungi are plant symbionts living in close association with roots, and they penetrate deeper below the surface as time passes....Researchers at Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, led by Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova (2007), have discovered that fungi having melanin (the pigment in your skin that darkens upon exposure to sunlight) use radiation to help their cell growth, analogous to how plants use chlorophyll to generate chemical energy from sunlight. This first came to their attention when they read that robotic cameras detected dark pigmented fungi growing on the walls within the highly radioactive Chernobyl reactor vessels. In experiments, the authors found that ionizing radiation approximately five hundred times higher than background levels significantly enhanced the rate of growth in several species of melanin-rich fungi. The implications of these findings are huge: opening up the possibility of generating fungal foods for space travel, and that fungi could exist on other planets lacking sunlight but exposed to ionizing radiation that pemeates the universe.

Excerpt from Paul Stamets' Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help save the World, (2005, pp. 105,107, and 113).

List of Images:

Mushrooms vs Heavy Metals and Cesium
Agaricus arvensis aka Horse Mushroom
Agaricus bitorquis aka Spring Agaricus
Agaricus campestris aka Meadow Mushroom
Boletus edulis aka King Bolete
Cantharellus cibarius aka Chanterelle
Coprimus comatus aka Shaggy Mane
Gomphidius glutinosus aka Hideous Gomphidius
Clitocybe nuda aka Blewit
Lycoperdon perlatum aka Gem-studded puffball
Macrolepiota procera aka Parasol mushrooms
Macrolepiota procera aka Parasol mushrooms2
Morchella esculenta aka Yellow Morels
Morels to reclaim burnt areas
Paxillus atrotementosus aka Velvet footed Pax
Pleurotus ostreatus aka Oyster Mushroom
Suillus tomentosus aka Tomentose Suillus
Tricholoma magniverlare aka Matsutake
Tricholoma magniverlare aka Matsutake in the forest
Tricholoma magniverlare aka Matsutake in the forest description
ShareThis