Champignon mushrooms are a nutritional part of our diet, and on top of that – along with the compost that serves as their matrix – an important Dutch export product. They are also sustainable products, because this compost is made of plant-based waste products. It was already known that a significant part of the compost is not decomposed by the champignon mushroom, and PhD Candidate Aurin Vos's hypothesis was therefore that improved decomposition would result in a bigger harvest, as well as a more efficient and even more sustainable production of champignon mushrooms. However, Vos's research shows that the decomposition of plant-based remains is very likely to not be the limiting factor for the growth of champignon mushrooms.
PhD Defence of Aurin Vos
PhD Defence: The hidden diet of the champignon mushroom
Vos suspects that in the beginning, champignon mushrooms primarily feed on bacteria. He proved that micro organisms are possibly the most important source of food for champignon mushrooms during the growth of champignon mycelium in compost. This contradicts earlier assumptions that micro organisms provide only a small contribution to the growth of champignon mushrooms, while plant-based remains are the biggest food source.
By determining the biomass of fungi and bacteria in compost, Vos was instead able to conclude that champignon mushrooms feed primarily on micro organisms. His suspicion is that champignon mushrooms primarily feed on bacteria, which in turn feed on plant remains. Further research will be needed to find out whether or not this hidden diet can be harnessed to improve production efficiency.