Scientists create 'bionic mushroom' that can power an LED bulb

Ismael LynchNov 10, 2018

The bacteria they used is called cyanobacteria, which produces energy from light like plants.

"Although this current is insufficient to power an electronic device, an array of bionic mushrooms could generate enough current to light up an LED", the study authors said.

United States researchers have successfully tested the rather whacky idea of producing electricity from a mushroom covered in bacteria.The scientists used 3D printing to attach clusters of energy-producing bugs to the cap of a button mushroom.The fungus provided the ideal environment to allow the cyanobacteria to generate a small amount of power.The authors say their fossil-free "bionic mushroom" could have great potential.As researchers the world over search for alternative energy sources, there has been a sharp rise in interest in cyanobacteria.These organisms, widely found in the oceans and on land, are being investigated for their abilities to turn sunlight into electrical current. Thus, Joshi and his colleagues Packed cyanobacteria of the genus Anabaena in special nanoparticles and resettle them on the surface of the artificial mushrooms.

Cyanobacteria is known for its ability to produce electricity in photosynthesis but past use of these in bio-engineering has been limited by its short life span.

The electricity was produced by using 3D printing to place clusters of cyanobacteria, which derives its energy from the sun, on the mushroom.

White button mushrooms host a rich microbiota but not cyanobacteria specifically, prompting Mannoor and postdoctoral fellow Sudeep Joshi, to ask if agaricus bisporus could provide the nutrients, moisture, pH and temperature for the cyanobacteria to produce electricity for a longer period. Experiments showed that the setup generated small amounts of electricity and lasted for several days longer compared to silicone and dead mushrooms used as controls. "We showed for the first time that a hybrid system can incorporate an artificial collaboration, or engineered symbiosis, between two different microbiological kingdoms". Imagine needles sticking into a single cell to access electrical signals inside it, explains Mannoor.

With an electronic ink laid down, Manoor and Joshi printed a bio-ink containing the cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria were also 3-D printed as "bio-ink" onto the mushroom's cap in a spiral pattern that intersected with the graphene ribbons.

In a statement, Mannoor said the study could pave the way for larger opportunities involving bio-electricity.

Joshi and Mannoor discovered they could produce more electricity depending on the density and alignment of the bacteria.

'For example, some bacteria can glow, while others sense toxins or produce fuel.

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