Fungal building materials for extreme environments
Colonization of uninhabitable areas, like Mars, will require building materials to be transported to the site of deployment. Transport limitations such as space and weight make this process very expensive. Based on these challenges, we propose to make building materials from fungal mycelium to be grown on site. Our project is focused on how to optimize the material properties of the fungi through engineering of basic fungal characteristics. Our initial studies identified Aspergillus oryzae as the best candidate chassis for material properties and ease of genetic engineering. Based on our choice of fungus, we decided to increase the gene expression of melanin to improve A. oryzae’s capabilities of withstanding UV radiation and change the colors of the fungi by inserting a blue chromoprotein gene. Furthermore, we have designed a final geometric structure that can withstand external conditions and reduce the amount of work needed to assemble it.
PHASE TWO - Inventory
PHASE THREE - Producing the Sheets
PHASE FOUR - Assembly
Why do we want to land on Mars?
Researching and optimizing a fungal species for the purpose of mycotecture.
Designing easily deployable production facilities that can protect the cultivation systems from the Martian environment.
We have not researched whether the structural properties depend on being on earth, eg. lower pressure compromising strength.
The team received a bronze medal for their project