Researchers have engineered mushrooms capable of producing bio-electricity, according to a study published November 7 in Nano Letters. In this artificial symbiosis, button mushrooms provide shelter, nutrients, and moisture to bacteria in exchange for energy. A swirl of cyanobacteria 3D printed on the mushroom cap carries out photosynthesis under sunlight and a network of graphene nanoribbons entwined with the microbes siphons off electrons to generate a current.
One sunlight-powered mushroom produced 65 nanoAmps. Although that’s not enough juice to power a cell phone, an array of bionic mushrooms can illuminate an LED. The researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are working to boost the current and they say that this 3D-printing approach could create other useful microbial networks, for instance, to take advantage of bioluminescence.
S. Joshi et al., “Bacterial nanobionics via 3D printing,” Nano Letters, doi:10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02642, 2018.