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The Future is Fungal

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Photograph of Vanessa Toholka, Gavin McIntyre and Brian Pickles

Vanessa Toholka, Gavin McIntyre and Brian Pickles at the Wheeler Centre

Mushrooms, it seems, have some uncanny properties. Fungi are more closely related to humans than plants, and if we can work with our fungal cousins, we might find a way to reduce waste – and perhaps even salvage our planet.

Gavin McIntyre and Brian Pickles are two ‘bio-neers’ whose work is at the forefront of the new mushroom movement. McIntyre is co-founder and chief scientist at the New York-based biofabrication company, Ecovative, where he’s developing fungal mycelium products to replace plastics, wood, leather and even bricks. Pickles is an ecologist at the University of Reading and part of a pioneering research team that is unlocking the secrets of the mysterious symbiotic system known as mycorrhiza. He has found that trees can communicate, thanks to underground mushroom networks, which connect trees at their roots.

At the Wheeler Centre, Vanessa Toholka joins McIntyre and Pickles to discuss the implications of their discoveries and inventions, as they make the case for a fungal future.


Portrait of Vanessa Toholka

Vanessa Toholka

Vanessa Toholka is a management consultant, with over fifteen years experience working in digital content and strategy.

Portrait of Brian Pickles

Brian Pickles

Brian is Scottish, but doesn’t particularly sound like it. He thought he'd grow up to be a fighter pilot or an astrophysicist, but got dengue fever and became an ecologist (not necessarily in that order). His biggest influences have been The Cult, sea turtles, and Kung Fu. He teaches students about reptiles and dinosaurs, but has been known to hug a tree or two. Brian’s research projects have planted tens of thousands of trees, so he tries not to feel too bad about cutting a few down (for science!). His PhD is in Plant Science from the University of Aberdeen.

Portrait of Gavin McIntyre

Gavin McIntyre

Gavin McIntyre is the co-founder and Director of Business Development of Ecovative. Ecovative is a biomaterials company that leverages fungal mycelium to create disruptive solutions for our planet’s most pressing problems. 

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