White-rot fungus, mostly known for its ability to decay forest wood, can be used as a low-cost cleanser for contaminated soils, a Finnish researcher has found.
Erika Winquist, a researcher at Aalto University in Finland, told The Ecologist magazine that during three months of experiments she was able to break down 96 per cent of poly-aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds and 64 per cent of the dioxins in contaminated soil.
Winquist’s grew the white-rot fungus on pine bark, which naturally contains compounds that prevent the growth of other microbes. After four to six weeks, she transferred the fungus to the contaminated soil in a temperature-controlled treatment plant, where the White rot mycelia grew into the polluted soil, and broke down lignins and polluting compounds with lignin-like structures, including dioxins and PAHs.
Finland alone dumps over a million tonnes of contaminated soil to landfill every year.