Enlisting synthetic fungal-bacterial consortia to produce multi-cellular mycelium-based ELMs with computational capability

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2026
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Synthetic biology
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biomaterials
    • Industrial microbiology
Biotechnology synthetic microbial consortia living computing devices
Other information
Project description

Fungateria addresses a development gap in mycelium-based ELMs by developing a portfolio of ELMs that are composed of a synthetic co-cultivation consortium of a filamentous fungus and a bacterial strain. Sensing and adaptive growth of the fungal hyphae are exploited to develop an autonomous bottom-up and scalable manufacturing technology called Growth Composing (GC) that enables an engineered morphogenesis of mycelium materials using robotically controlled spray nozzles that generate local air, gas or aerosol flows steering hyphal growth. In addition, bioprinting is used to deposit inocula of the engineered bacterial strain in specific patterns and at specific times throughout the production process. Various ELM products are developed, ranging from consumer goods to applications in the environmental and construction sector, which become active through environmental cues of light, temperature and chemical attractants. To this end, synthetic biology engineering will be implemented to use the bacterial strain as a chassis for sensor-containing genetic circuits that render advanced functionalities to the ELM throughout its life cycle, either through direct activity or by influencing growth and morphology of the fungal partner. ELM activity is verified with probes that reveal bio- electric signaling in the materials - providing additional dimensions of control, monitoring, functionality and exploitation as actively computing devices. When no longer needed or having reached the end of their productive life, kill switches are activated either by human-controlled environmental triggers or triggers of the system itself, thereby causing the ELM to fully and quickly degrade without causing any negative environmental impact. Throughout the Fungateria project, a societal dialogue will be established to continuously align research objectives with ethical and regulatory requirements.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.