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Bags and wallets made from mushrooms have the potential to ‘dislodge’ animal skins

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Mushrooms can “morph” into a substitute for animal skins in the manufacture of bags and purses. Photo: Daily Mail

The Daily Mail (UK) on March 23 reported that researchers at Boras University (Sweden) have found a method to produce artificial skin from mushrooms raised on expired supermarket bread.

The researchers claim that the artificial leather derived from mushrooms is produced faster than others on the market and especially features 100% plant origin. Mushrooms can also be used to create paper and cotton alternatives.

They used a fungal spore called Rhizopus delemar, which is normally present on decaying food. They feed Rhizopus delemar on expired supermarket bread, which is dried and crushed and mixed with water in a small-scale reactor. Two days after the mushrooms were ‘eaten’ bread, the scientists removed proteins, lipids and by-products from the fungal cells.

The fungus Rhizopus delemar produces natural fibers containing chitin and chitosan on its cell walls. The fungal cells are then flattened and dried to form a skin-like material.

The first “mushroom skin” produced was thin and not flexible. The team is therefore testing a version that includes multiple layers of fungal cells that work together to mimic animal skin. This composite will consist of layers treated with plant-based tannins for softness, and layers treated with alkalis for added durability.

Dr Akram Zamani at Boras University emphasized that during the development process, they were careful not to use harmful chemicals or add substances that could harm the environment.

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