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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Paul Stamets - Report from the Underground | Bioneers

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Well, I'm really honored to be here.

Thank you Kenny and Nina, thank you all Bioneers.

It really feels like I've come home.

I really have some groundbreaking new research,

never been revealed to an audience like this,

only in the past several weeks,

and I'm gonna reveal at the end of my talk.

Now, I'd like to start out my talk, because I'm wearing my favorite hat.

It's a very cool hat, made from the amadou mushroom.

It's a birch polypore mushroom.

This hat is actually made by some ladies in Transylvania.

It allowed for the portability of fire,

and you can haul embershollow this mushroom out,

put embers of fire inside and carry fire for days.

There's no doubt that we all are Africans.

We migrated north into Europe and we discovered something new called winter.



This mushroom allowed for the portability of fire.

Now, this mushroom goes back medicinally also thousands of years.

Hippocrates first described it in 450 BCE as an anti-inflammatory.

Beekeepers throughout Europe use this for smoking bees.

This mushroom in the 1960s was the first mushroom

to contain an anti-viral substance that was known to medicine.

Well, this mushroom is an example of the thread of knowledge

going back to our ancestors, when we were once forest people.

Not long ago we were so dependent upon the forests,

and deforestation, I think, is the greatest threat to human survival today.

Now, I'm gonna show another friend of mine.


This is agarikon.

Agarikon was first described by Dioscorides in 65 AD

aselixirium ad longam vitam” , the elixir of long life.

It is a resident exclusively of the old growth forests in Washington, Oregon,

British Columbia, Northern California,

now thought to be extinct throughout most of Europe because of deforestation.

I believeand I want to propose to you

that agarikon, like amadou,

it will be extremely significant for human survival.

We have now entered into 6x,

the greatest extinction event known in the history of life on this planet

But this extinction event is not caused by an asteroid impact,

or volcanoes, or earthquakes;

it's caused by an organism, by us.

Not only are we the cause of this extinction event, but we're likely to be its victim.

Deforestation is causing zoonotic diseases to spread.

The emergence of Ebola is directly related to deforestation

and a clash of thecultural clash, so to speak, between bats and humans.

This is something that I think is emblematic of the times.

When an ecosystem exceeds

when an organism exceeds the carrying capacity of its ecosystem,

then disease vectors emanate. This is the way of nature.

So as Kenny mentioned, I'm greatly honored to be

the invention ambassador for AAAS.

I carry this honor for all of us.

One of us, one of our tribe, is being recognized

by the most prestigious scientific organization in the world.



Thank all of you.

Now, my brother John really inspired me to get into science.

He went to Yale.

We had a beautiful laboratory in the basement

when I was a kid, but he never let me get in there

because I was the youngest son, you know.

And he always was my mentor,

but he was always kind of like competitive to me;

never really believed that

scithis mushroom science stuff, was all that important.

So when this award was announced,

I was vetted by scientists

So I was really eager to call my brother John,

and I called and there was no answer,

and so I emailed him on June 9th, when the award was announced.

On June 9th, that is the day that they

discovered my brother John's body.

He never got the email.

So, this talk is dedicated to him.

So we spent a lot of time in the old growth forests,

and in these forests I believe are libraries of knowledge.

Ancestrally it goes back not only millennia,

but multi-dimensionally in ways that we can barely imagine.

The largest organism in the world is a fungus in Eastern Oregon.

It is a mushroom,

a honey mushroom,

called armillaria ostoyae.

It covers 2200 acres.

It's a contiguous mycelial mat and it's only one cell wall thick.

Well, think of that.

The forests are being governed and controlled by these large fungal mats,

and I think we should respect things that are larger than us,

especially the largest organism in the world, don't you think?

And the mycelium of these saprophytic fungi in particular

are the grand molecular disassemblers of nature.

They're soil magicians. They're tenacious.

They can hold tens of thousands times their weight.

They can hold the soil together, preventing erosion.

And then when they stream out and grow course habitats,

they control the dissension of subsequent microorganisms

that populate the downstream communities

that give rise to the plants in the forest

that create the debris fields that then feed the fungal descendants.

They're purposeful in their choosing of microbial allies, and they're commensal.

The mycelium is an extended, you know, stomach.

They're externalized lungs, and I believe that

these are externalized neurological networks

and part of the Earth's natural Internet

that's in constant biomolecular communication governing the ecosystem.

The mycelium expresses these little extracellular droplets

in which are acids, enzymes, all sorts of messaging molecules,

many, many compounds that scientists are still discovering

that are unique, at least they're unique to us.

And the mycelium transports thousands of nuclei.

This is a movie by my friend Patrick Hickey.

And these bundles of nuclei stream across the networks.

And because of epigenesist, and they resorting nuclei at the tips,

literally hundreds of millions of tips of mycelium

in a swath the size of the stretch of my arms

is there's a new insect, a new toxin, a new food source.

There's a re-assortment of nuclei in an expression of a new enzyme,

a new acid, a new solution to digesting that toxin.

What happens? The mycelium becomes educated,

it then captures that new nutrition, and that information genetically

becomes resident within the entire mycelial mat.

These are self-learning membranes.

Virtually all plants, more than 90% of plants, have mycorrhizal fungi.

They extend the root zones hundreds of times, giving them the essential nutrients.

And the use of fertilizers now on factory farms

defeat the mycorrhizal networks and make them addicted

as if a plant becomes addicted like a drug addict.

So, depending upon these natural ecological systems

is far better.

This research study came out just a few months ago,

and it's surprising that this study just recently came out.

Six bean plants were individually put into different pots.

The first bean plant was exposed to aphids.

The plants then produced alkaloids that are anti-aphid

the first plant that it was exposed, the five other plants did not.

When the six plants were joined together in the common soil,

connected by the mycelial networks,

when the first plant was exposed to aphids, all the other five plants also produced

the anti-aphid alkaloids, thus proving that the root system

had a communication pathway to help alert and defend the community

from potential pathogens.

So, Dusty and I spend a lot of time in the old growth forest.

This is where we go, and this is where I say I go to church on Sundays.

Well, agarikon, as I mentioned, is a species of great significance.

Some of you have heard my previous talks

working with the BioShield BioDefense program.

Over 700 samples were submitted, and these are the positive drug control.

Anything that's over two is considered to be active as an anti-viral,

and then we submitted 700 samples, all coded.

The US government did not know what the samples were,

and compared to our anti-viral control,

this is the activity anti-virally of our extracts diluted 100 to 1

from the mycelium.

They show no toxicity to human cells,

but high activity against viruses,

including H5N1 bird flu, as well as herpes simplex I & II.

So this is mymanly manpicture.



not long ago, our forests of the world had enormous amounts of wood debris.

Unfortunately, now the wood debris has been taken out of the forests,

and now with our current practices we have a small fraction of the resident wood debris

that was otherwise in nature that depend --

organisms depended upon and through which we've

evolved through the thread of evolution to where we are today.

Now we are removing that menu of wood debris from the ecosystem.

Organisms are dependent upon it for millions of years.

What do they do?


I want to bring to you to an epiphany that I've had

that I think is just truly revolutionary.

This is a photograph from Whole Foods. Thank you, Whole Foods.

And a presidential memorandum that came out a few months ago

from President Obama

talking about the stressors that are leading to colony collapse disorders --

I use that in plural

and the loss of poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands,

parasites from mites that are carrying viruses, and the exposure to pesticides.

These were all unfortunately multiple stressors,

which are combining at once to cause the bees to be harmed.

I am going to show you a short movie now with my good friend Louis Schwartzberg

that shows how the bees forage.

They forage several miles away from their habitat.

If we could have the movie forward...

And the bees leave these hives, and then they don't come back.

Now, worker bees...

one lives 7 to 10 days at the end of their life when they're foraging.

So when you see bees on flowers, that's the last week or so of their life.

But upon hatching, the young bees then quickly become nurse bees

and they take care of the brood.

Well, when there is a loss of foraging bees,

the nurse bees then are prematurely recruited,

and they, as a result,

the nurse bees, their population declines,

the brood is not taken care of,

mites and other diseases then begin to spiral out of control,

and suddenly the whole colony collapses.

So follow me on this path.

I've had a very bizarre set of circumstances.

Dusty and I are hiking in the old growth forest

in the Olympic National Forest,

the south fork of the Hoh.

We go around a corner and Dusty sees this incredible bear scratch.


It scratches the tree,

and bears scratch trees.

Well, bears scratch trees for the resin.

I think a lot of people know that.

And we came back two or three years later

and this was the entry wound for polypore mushrooms.

So the forest service and the lumber industry hired hunters

to kill thousands of bears

because they were scratching the trees and hurting their timber interests.

And then David Suzuki and others then found out

the bears were actually pulling salmon from the stream

and bringing sea phosphorous back into the forest ecosystem,

thus allowing the trees to grow larger.

Humans are so adept at choosing exactly opposite of their best interest.

So we went to this tree two years later and,

lo and behold,

the red-belted polypore mushroom was popping out.

This is exactly the species that the timber industry, and the lumber industry

in their documents, were trying to prevent from growing.

Well, this fungus is very active in breaking down a wide assortment of toxins,

anthropogenic xenobiotic toxins, including pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

And so I had a garden,

and in 1984 I had two beehives.

And I'm growing the Garden Giant mushroom in my garden.

And then one day, walk out in the morning

and Im astonished when I look close,

I have bees

that move the wood chips away,

exposing the mycelium.

I look really carefully...

and they were sucking on my mycelium.


But there's a lot of effort to move those big wood chips,

and my mycelial patch was this thick, and for 40 days,

from sunrise to sunset, a continuous stream of bees.

I thought this was very interesting.

I looked at it carefully,

And I could see the little sweat droplets on the mycelium that they exposed,

and they were sipping on them.

That's really interesting.

I published this.

It was first in Harrowsmith magazine,

it's in one of my books Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms.

Virtually everybody ignored me except for one bee keeper in Ottawa.

I said, "Well, maybe that's why bees are attracted to sawdust piles

in the summertime".

Now in my garden we have blackberry flowers,

we had all sorts of roses,

many, many flowering plants,

but the bees from morning to dusk for 40 days went to my patch of mycelium

and sucked it down.

So series of articles.

I read a lot.

An article came out.

That all plants are part fungi. That's interesting.

And that the fungicide use reduces beneficial fungi that are important for bees.

Well, and bee bread in particular.

And then a series of other articles come out,

and it's not that complicated

but honey constituents contain an interesting Polyphenol

called p-coumaric acid.

P-coumaric acid controls your detoxification pathways.

We use it. Bees use it.

All animals use it.

But bees only have 56 genes,

or 47 genes for coding for p-coumaric acid

that for --

Im sorry -- for cytochrome p450s that are controlled by p-coumaric acid.

So basically without the fungi, you don't have p-coumaric acid,

the genes are turned off.

So the bees are dependent upon these fungal compounds

that are in decomposing wood

for their detoxification pathways.

When you remove the wood,

their detoxification pathways are turned off,

there is a hyper-accumulation of toxins --

fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, etc.

The bees develop malaise,

they are not able to take care of themselves as well.

And so I thought, well that's interesting.

There's a fungal constituent.

Well, the bees also are being parasitized by mites,

and mites carry viruses.

And when there is a 7% infestation of mites in beehives

the colony collapses.


Well, there's lots of research on entomopathogenic fungi --

some of you know of my work on this --

and there's this metarhizium fungus that does not harm bees

but attacks the mites.

So, a lot of research on how can we control varroa mites

that are vectoring the viruses by using this fungus,

so, something else that I've been very keen on.

And so, when Louis Schwartzberg knew of my work with insects and fungi,

he says, "Paul, can you help the bees?"

I went, "You know, I had this really strange experience with bees in my garden."

So I said, "Well, Louis, let me look into that."

And I started thinking and thinking.

And I love the brain space

between sleep and awakening,

and I lay in that state of semi-consciousness

and then I have this Gestaltic experience

of connecting the dots.

And then I have this epiphany that took me 30 years.


And so

we have now created "MycoHoney",

coming from mycelium.

And the MycoHoney is extremely sweet,

a wide assortment of sugars and polysaccharides.

Beekeepers typically use 50% sucrose solutions

to feed the honeybees.

The honeybees are not native to North America,

but we have 4,000 native bees,

and they also are dependent upon these complex sugars.

So we created this MycoHoney,

and then I approached several universities.

When I contacted Washington State University,

they said:

"Please, don't go to anyone else. This is too cool of an idea."


So we started running experiments with bees.

First, we want to do a stress test.

A hundred bees in a cage, they're given extracts of the mycelium,

the MycoHoney, of different species.

Now we have 500 strains of species in our cultural library,

so but I focused in on a particular group of polypore mushrooms

because I knew from agarikon and from amadou

that they had anti-viral properties.

So we started doing this research and then it dawned on me,


many of these polypores grow on birch trees,

and so we have amadou, which is at the very top,

we have chaga, and we have reishi.

Now, bees go to scratched trees only of willows and birch trees

and young firs, which the bears also scratch.

And the red-belted polypore grows on firs,

and these three other species here grow on birch trees,

but that's specifically the trees the bees go to sip on the sap

and to collect their resins for propolis.

So here are our preliminary results and this is a stress test

showing the effects of the red-belted polypore

and the amadou mushroom in being able to increase longevity,

those of you who know anything about significance factors,

this is extraordinarily significant.

And their ratio here means that the more of the bees are living,

and so the worker bees can do their job.

The nurse bees are not prematurely recruited.

So Dr. Steve Shepherd and Dr. Brandon Taylor,

who I'm working with,

have been doing this work,

and as entomologists of 39 years of experience studying bees,

I'm unaware of any reports that extend the life of worker bees more than this.

So this is a very skeptical group of scientists


So then we said, well,

let's look at the viruses being vectored by the mites.

And so for the first time I am showing this,

this is over two weeks --

the bees in captivity only live for about four weeks.

They succumb to the viruses vectored by the mites,

and the other absence of access to these fungal constituents

that help the detoxification pathway.

And feeding them our extracts

compared to their sugar control,

and you can see how the viral counts skyrockets,

and then at 0.1, 1% and 10% solution,

the viral counts plummet.

Now, so looking at this

with some other species now,

looking at the red reishi,

which also grows on birch trees, we get a similar effect.

A massive amount of viruses will reproduce

within the bees without the exposure to the MycoHoney.

But as the MycoHoney increases, there's a radical decline

in the viral pathogen payload.

How weird is this?

That the same mushrooms

that can limit bird flu H5N1, herpes,

also positively affect bees and being able, for them,

to control the viral burden and reduce them.

I think this points to a larger picture.


looking now at the bees in captivity and the survival rate,

the red reishi also - and this is significant here in this part of the life span -

again, the worker bees were able to do their job,

the nurse bees, they don't have to be prematurely recruited,

the colony then is better able to survive.


a hypothesis is not necessarily based on facts.

This is my hypothesis:

The increase, the longevity of worker bees,

reduction of their viral loads, the reduction of varroa mites

and the increase year-to-year survival.

Well, the hypothesis has now become a theory.

We have confirmed that we can increase longevity,

we can confirm that we reduce the viral payloads,

we know that the varroa mites can be controlled by metarhizium fungi,

and now we are going to go into thousands of beehives next fall

to try to be able to demonstrate this, you know,

across many states in the United States

and hopefully in many countries.


And as Kenny eluded to,

I really believe the solutions are literally underfoot,

and they're also endemic to our culture.

How many of us who read Winnie the Pooh to our children,

or some of you young people here knew about

Winnie the Pooh going to rotted logs to go after the bees?

I'm mostly -- I'm thrilled that I made this discovery,

and I'm also frightened.

How is it today that I'm the first one to have made this discovery?

We scoured the scientific literature.

We had mycologists, entomologists --

they've gone to hundreds of conferences,

no one's ever mentioned this, even a whisper of it.

Bees are attracted to rotting logs,

specifically for their immunological benefit.

It's part of their host defense of their immunity.

They're just not going to a rotted log just because they want to be on a rotted log.

There are species specificity factors here.

They can up-regulate their immune system,

give them a host of anti-viral shield,

allow them to detoxify toxins,

and allow them to be better pollinators.

Thirty percent of our food is directly pollinated by bees,

and seventy percent of our food is controlled by pollinators.

We are suffering a collapse of our ecosystems,

but we can do something about this.

And so I want to call out,

and I'm proposing

we be mushroomed.


I'm calling out to all of you as citizen scientists,

to join in a mycological revolution,

to be able to go out and be able to help wild bees

as well as the honeybee,

and to be able to engage in permaculture practices

to return carbon back into the soil,

to build the mycelial networks,

because we are far more interconnected

with mycelium in nature

than we even have a glimpse of being possible.

So I want to then finish now

with a movie that Louis Schwartzberg and I are making together,

and my dear brother, Louis,

has put together this little two-minute clip,

and I just want to close with this.


Mushroom mycelium represents re-birth,

rejuvenation, regeneration.

Fungi generate soil that gives life.

The task that we face today is to understand the language of nature.

My mission is to discover the language of nature

of the fungal networks to communicate with the ecosystem.

And I believe nature is intelligent.

The fact that we lack the language skills to

communicate with nature

does not impugn the concept

that nature is intelligent.

It speaks to our inadequacy for communication.

If we dont get our act together

and come in commonality

and understanding with the organisms that sustain us today,

not only will we destroy those organisms

but we will destroy ourselves.

We need to have a paradigm shift in our consciousness.

What will it take to achieve that?

If I die trying,

and Im inadequate to the task

to make a course change in the evolutional life in this planet,

ok, I tried.

The fact is I tried.

How many people are not trying?

If you knew that every breathe you took

could save hundreds of lives into the future,

how do you walk into this path of knowledge,

wouldnt you run down that path of knowledge as fast as you could?

I believe nature is a force of good.

Good is not only a concept,

it is a spirit.

And so hopefully,

the spirit of goodness will survive.

Thank you very much!


The Description of Paul Stamets - Report from the Underground | Bioneers