Peroxide in mushroom growing

RushWayne rushwayne at
Thu Dec 19 14:04:40 EST 1996

For the past three years, I have been working out the details of an
invention which allows the convenient, contamination- free culture of
mushrooms, from agar plates, to spawn, to fruiting, in non-sterile
environments with unfiltered air.  The invention consists of the use of
hydrogen peroxide as a selective biocide.   Hydrogen peroxide solution
(available at most drug stores) can be added to agar medium, to spawn, or
to selected fruiting substrates, and at the proper concentration, with the
proper precautions, it will protect the culture medium from all the
commonairborne contaminants of mushroom culture-- including mushroom
spores.  At the same time, it allows healthy growth and fruiting of
cultures, which are resistant to peroxide because they
possess high levels of enzymes that decompose peroxide 
on contact.

Using this invention, I have repeatedly grown and fruited in my home five
different mushroom species (P. ostreatus, 
P. eryngii, H. ulmarius, H. tessulatus, and A. subrufescens) 
and maintained agar cultures and prepared spawn of 
three more (Lentinus edodes, Grifola frondosa, and 
Coprinus comatus), with no more special equipment 
for contamination control than an ordinary pressure cooker, a graduated
cylinder and a measuring pipette.  This 
method obviously has a number of advantages. It allows you to

--make your own spawn rather than buying it 
(without remodeling your house!), or if you are already 
making your own, greatly reduce the hassle associated 
with keeping it contamination-free
--keep agar cultures and spawn on a bookshelf or in a 
closet, wherever you find it convenient 
--with the appropriate substrate, use ordinary trash 
bags, straight from the package, for fruiting cultures 
rather than microporous filter bags, 
--use ordinary jar lids rather than microporous filter 
--use ordinary pressure cookers rather than specially 
designed cooker/sterilizers, 
--do without purchasing and installing clean rooms, 
air filtering equipment, UV lights, glove boxes, etc.
--keep agar plates in the same building as fruiting cultures 
of mushrooms, (or down-wind from compost piles, 
etc.), without cross-contamination, even with heavy 
spore- formers.

In addition to these advantages, hydrogen peroxide itself 
is quite safe to handle and environmentally benign.  
The mushroom mycelium decomposes it completely to
water and oxygen as the mycelium permeates the 
substrate.  Until then, hydrogen peroxide is chemically 
stable in mushroom substrates, as long as they have 
been treated to eliminate peroxide-decomposing enzymes.

I am now offering in a manual all the information necessary 
to use hydrogen peroxide successfully as I have done, in 
home mushroom culture.  Included are the 
different concentrations and procedures for peroxide use 
in agar, spawn, and fruiting substrates, procedures 
for detecting and eliminating or avoiding 
peroxide- decomposing enzymes, a way to check 
the concentration of peroxide in stock solution, description of changes in
inoculation procedures for peroxide culture compared to traditional
filtered-air culture, pitfalls encountered in peroxide culture, procedures
for choosing a substrate compatible with peroxide, protocols for preparing
media and substrates with peroxide, a method for using peroxide with
pasteurized pellet-fuel as a fruiting substrate for wood-decomposers, and

Although the method is not foolproof, and you will still need to know and
use some sterile technique, I believe it will make the entire process of
mushroom growing much easier and more accessible overall.

What's my background?  Twenty years ago, I got a Ph.D. 
in biochemistry from the University of California, 
Berkeley (where I was introduced to the basic concepts 
of mushroom growing), and a few years before that, I earned a Masters in
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University.  I have been
growing mushrooms myself for exactly as long as I have been working on

I will send you all the necessary information for 
$19.95, (roughly the price of a single bag of spawn from 
a commercial dealer), shipping in the U.S. and 
handling included.  I will have to add shipping to the price 
for international mailing.  The price will most likely 
increase in the new year.  

For inquiries or ordering information, please e-mail me
at RushWayne at AOL.COM, and put PEROXIDE in the subject heading.  (Check the
FUNGUS newsletter for 
additional discussion of this technique).

Rush Wayne, Ph.D.

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