Australian exotic and native mushroom production to receive technological boost from Queensland University of Technology project 

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Oyster mushroom at the Kenon Mushrooms growing facility

Image: Queensland University of Technology

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology have set out to develop new technologies in a bid to expand Australia’s production of exotic and native mushrooms. 

The A$2.1m research and development project led by QUT will be funded by industry partners Future Food System CRC and leading Queensland exotic mushroom producer Kenon Corporation. 

The project aims to reduce imports by developing modern technology to enable year-round production.  

Project lead, Zhanying Zhang of the QUT School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering said QUT will develop small-scale and mobile production modules that will enable the growth of different varieties under controlled conditions.  

“We will also source and develop Australian native mushrooms to reduce reliance on imported mushroom varieties and potentially lead to development of new Indigenous industries for remote communities,” said Zhang. 

Currently, Australian mushroom growers rely on pre-inoculated mushroom growth bags, which are sourced overseas.  

The project aims to address this by developing a local production of mushroom liquid seed culture preparation methods which will enable automation and large-scale production. 

“This project will investigate the use of Australia’s abundant biomass and organic waste to create the substrate for mushrooms to grow on,” Zhang said. 

By shifting to a more domestic production focus, Zhang said the mushroom industry can lower the risk of supply chain disruptions and generate revenue for other industries. 

“This also solves waste disposal problems for the food and beverage industry,” he said.  

In addition to new production technology, the team will develop mushroom-based food products in a bid to diversify the industry.  

According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence, the plant-based meat and dairy sectors are growing at an unprecedented rate due to an increase in vegetarian and vegan diets.  

“Replacing, or supplementing animal meat products with mushroom-based, meat-like products can help reduce the carbon footprint generated by the livestock industry,” Zhang said.