Henrik Drake, associate professor of environmental science at Linnaeus University, is participating in an exhibition about fungi in art and science at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm. The exhibition opens on 30 September and explores the world of fungi through artworks, design objects, fashion, and contemporary scientific research.
How does it feel to be part of an exhibition?
“It's exciting that such a prestigious institution like the Nobel Prize Museum wanted to include my research in their exhibition. It's great that the public will now get to see what I have discovered deep in the Earth's crust through my research on life at great depths in the lithosphere”.
What is your part in the exhibition about?
“Samples from my research projects are on display an there is movie about fungi research, where I talk about the deep biosphere, which is beneath our feet, several kilometres down. I explore deep boreholes and am fascinated by studying life in the most unusual places. I have found fossilised traces of fungi in environments where it was not believed possible for complex life to exist, and this can tell us something about how life on Earth originated or in which environments in space there may be conditions for life”.
What do you find most exciting about fungi?
“For me, the world of fungi was first revealed when I discovered fossilised fungi in a fracture at a depth of 740 meters down into the Earth's crust. It is the deepest in situ sample of a fungi mycelium ever found”.
“In a way, I became a mycologist overnight and, above all, I became fascinated by the fact that fungi can live at such depths in such a hostile, completely dark, and oxygen-free environment. However, it remained to actually understand howthe fungus can live there. During the course of this work, it became clear that fungi are a more significant players in the deep biosphere than previously thought”.
What do you hope visitors will take away from the exhibition?
“I hope they will open their eyes to a world they may not have known existed. Fungi are so much more than the mushrooms you put in your mouth”.