Fungal Bioremediation of Human Solid Waste

Faculty Sponsor

Michael Watters


Arts and Sciences


Department of Biology

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-28-2015


The accumulation of solid human waste is a major problem for long-term space expeditions. Fungal bioremediation of solid waste could provide a solution to this problem. Filamentous fungi can be used to biodegrade human solid waste. We report here the comparison of a variety of wild-type filamentous fungi for their ability to rapidly degrade solid waste. Certain strains of wild-type filamentous fungi, such a Neurospora crassa and Gelanispora cerealis, yielded waste to fungal-mass conversion rates of over 60 percent in seven days. Several strains, including Neurospora crassa, are edible and average about 50 percent amino acid content by mass, potentially providing a high-protein food generated in-flight to explorers of the final frontier.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

I was drawn to this project mainly because of its interplanetary as well as domestic usage. Waste management plays a key role in maintaining and improving life on earth. It also casts a solution to voyages through space. Recent expeditions have deemed the settlement of mankind on another planet almost inevitable. Filamentous fungi are solutions to the problem that is waste management. They are easy to work with and the results are widely visible within a week. Our current goal is set on re-achieving a dry human solid waste to fungal mass conversion rate of 75%. Hopefully, in the future that goal will transform itself to 100% mass conversion rate.

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