In an experiment conducted in conjunction with Dr. S. A. Thomas, a major contributor in the bioremediation industry, a plot of soil contaminated with diesel was inoculated with mycelia of oyster mushrooms; traditional bioremediation techniques (bacteria) were used on control plots. After four weeks, more than 95% of many of the PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) had been reduced to non-toxic components in the mycelial-inoculated plots. It appears that the natural microbial community participates with the fungi to break down contaminants, eventually into carbon dioxide and water. Wood-decay fungi are particularly effective in breaking down aromatic pollutants (toxic components of petroleum), as well as chlorinated compounds (certain persistent pesticides; Battelle, 2000).
The concept of mycoremediation was explored in the 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, where vast tracts of fungal forest rehabilitate the planet after catastrophic human polluting and apocalypse.