Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Forest Resources


Mehdi Tajvidi

Second Committee Member

Christopher G. Hunt

Third Committee Member

Douglas J. Gardner

Additional Committee Members

Barbara J. Cole

Jinwu Wang


The increasing environmental awareness has led to an increased interest in developing more sustainable materials as alternatives to petroleum-derived products. Among different nature-based products, fungal-mycelium-based bio-composites have gained considerable attention in various applications. Multiple materials with different densities and structures and potential applications can be fabricated by inoculating filamentous white-rot fungi in lignocellulosic materials and other substrates. Different from lower-density as-grown foam-like mycelium composites, higher-density mycelium-lignocellulosic panels have the potential to replace commercial particleboard and fiberboard bonded by petroleum-based resins. This kind of composite can be produced by directly adding heat and pressure to the low-density foams or by assembling mycelium-industry wastes before hot-pressing.

The main goal of this dissertation was to investigate the principal adhesion mechanisms involved in the production of hot-pressed mycelium bio-composites. The functionality of surface mycelium for wood bonding was thoroughly investigated by growing Trametes versicolor on yellow birch veneers. The presence of surface mycelium improved the interface between two wood layers and consequently enhanced bonding. The surface mycelium layer was also confirmed to be able to be utilized as a stand-alone adhesive to bond untreated wood. The exopolysaccharides and proteins located at the interface between aerial mycelium and the substrate were confirmed to play an essential role in adhesion. The bonding mechanism and functionality of mycelium were also investigated in both as-grown and hot-pressed bio-composite structures. For low-density as-grown foam structures, fungal mycelium only worked as a binder, the lignocellulosic substrate material played an essential role in sound absorption and thermal insulation properties, and the denser mycelium structure had a negative effect on these properties. In a higher-density hot-pressed panel system, fungal mycelium contributed to bonding and reinforced the bio-composite by filling the gaps.

Additionally, we also demonstrated that combining the advantages of nanocellulose research at UMaine into our novel mycelium bio-composite can provide further improvements in properties to manufacture formaldehyde-free hybrid composite panels. Finally, we discovered an all-natural mycelium surface with tunable wettability that can be switched several times from hydrophobic to hydrophilic status by a simple treatment. These surfaces can have potential applications in medical microfluidics and invisible pattern printing.

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