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Growing Room

New facilities spawn fresh opportunities for mushroom research.
Plant pathology graduate student Siyi Ge examines the progress of oyster mushrooms in the growing room of the new Mushroom Research Center.

Plant pathology graduate student Siyi Ge examines the progress of oyster mushrooms in the growing room of the new Mushroom Research Center.

New construction and renovations are giving a boost to Penn State research and extension programming related to mushrooms, one of Pennsylvania's top agricultural crops. A newly completed compost building adjacent to the Mushroom Research Center provides an improved composting system to support cropping needs. In addition, the Mushroom Research Center's nine growing rooms are being renovated to ensure more consistent growing conditions and maximize the reliability of research results.

"Mushrooms tend to be finicky in terms of temperature and humidity," says the center's manager, John Pecchia, assistant professor of plant pathology. "The renovations will give us more precise control over the growing environment, which in turn will give us higher confidence in the data we collect during our studies."

The Mushroom Research Center--one of the few facilities in the world dedicated to mushroom research--houses applied research aimed at improving commercial mushroom production. Studies include investigations of cultural practices, reuse of spent mushroom compost, odor reduction, reducing losses due to diseases, employing transgenic breeding techniques, and developing methods for producing specialty mushrooms.

--Chuck Gill