From making violins sound beautiful, to beer and bread, to creating life-saving medicine, fungi have an array of very useful attributes. This week, a report demonstrates just how little we know about this kingdom of life and what we are set to gain if we tap into fungi as a resource. Hannah Devlin investigates.
The more mycologists study fungi, the more they’re beginning to realise what an intriguing kingdom of life it is. Life-saving drugs like statins, penicillin and the immunosuppressants used in organ donation are all derived from fungi, as is the yeast used in bread and beer. Lesser known is that one researcher from Switzerland is making fungal-treated violins, and their sound is said to match that of a multimillion dollar Stradivarius. Hannah Devlin discusses why Stradivari’s violins are so hard to re-create and why fungi might help with Dr Francis Schwarze from the Swiss research institute, Empa.