As part of the Farming With Fungi project improving the laboratory infrastructure at Coed Talylan. Until now this off-grid small scale laboratory has mostly been used for culturing species of fungi for mushroom cultivation and training in sterile culture techniques. Now, thanks to recent technological innovations, we will increase the capacity of the lab to provide a diversity of other services that will strengthen the knowledge base in the regional food and farming sector.

We hope continue this development around the concept the bioregion and make use of the laboratory resources to enhance our understanding of the biodiversity in the local area and how to manage it appropriately.

Continuing the practice of mycology, the laboratory facilitates isolation and cultivation of indigenous species of fungi in the bioregion. These indigenous strains can then be utilised for local mushroom cultivation through the provision of spawn for regional growers. This means that growers are cultivating local species which have evolved with the environmental conditions of the bioregion.

In 2022 a Bentolab (www.bento.bio) was introduced to the laboratory as part of carrying out a baseline survey of the Refungium project at Coed Talylan. The Bentolab is purpose built for low cost, accessible molecular biology in the field. This allows us to identify the particular strains of mushrooms via a polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay.

Our growing practices at the Farming With Fungi project will factor in the use of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF), which are known to form beneficial symbioses with the majority of plants. We will using a method of propagation that enhances this association.

To evaluate the effects of using AMF in horticulture, we will record various measurements of the soil and plants at the site. Samples will be sent for analysis of carbon and nitrogen content off-site, using an elemental analyser. We will also investigate the use of a brix refractometer for studying the nutritional density of crops. 

Soil samples will be stored in case opportunities arise for further research, such as looking into glomalin content and more in-depth analysis of microbial diversity. We would also like to explore potential collaborations with the Science Centre at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales.