Campus Ecosystems: KPU student presents research on mushroom immune support

Fourth year agriculture student, Steph Bulman, will be presenting her research at the MushrooMania Festival on pink oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms and their ability to support a person’s immunity

Fourth year KPU sustainable agriculture student Steph Bulman is presenting her research at the MushrooMania Festival on Oct. 30. (Submitted)

Fourth year KPU sustainable agriculture student Steph Bulman is presenting her research at the MushrooMania Festival on Oct. 30. (Submitted)

The MushrooMania Festival starts this weekend in the Gibsons Public Market on the Sunshine Coast featuring speakers and workshops all pertaining to mushrooms. 

Steph Bulman, a fourth year Kwantlen Polytechnic University student in the sustainable agriculture program and the president of the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association, is giving a presentation on her research at the festival on Oct. 30. 

After battling her own chronic illness, Bulman explored functional medicine with a focus in mushroom immune support. 

Bulman has been doing her internship with Mycelyum, a company based on the Sunshine Coast that aims to “reframe assumptions” about mushrooms. Over the summer, she was researching different growing substrates for pink oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms to test yield and polysaccharide content. 

“The project objective was to grow pink oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms on varying substrates to determine how various substrates would affect the yield of both oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms,” Bulman says. 

“It’s all about soluble fiber and allowing for the highest levels of these polysaccharides and determining their immune boosting qualities.” 

Joy Dutcher, co-founder of Mycelyum who worked closely with Bulman, suggested she present her research at the MushrooMania Festival. She expanded her research project to include lion’s mane mushrooms because it’s one of the five mushrooms Mycelyum works with most. 

“They were interested in understanding the beta glucan levels because … it’s what dieticians and naturopathic doctors look at when they decide if the mushroom will be instrumental in improving somebody’s immunity or supporting their immune system,” Bulman says. 

Her project links to four of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, which are an “urgent call for action by all countries” to recognizing the interconnectedness of public emergencies and climate change. 

“This is a big thing we talk about in the sustainable agriculture program. The four that [my project] connects to are Life on Land, Climate Action, Responsible Production and Consumption, and Good Health and Well Being,” she says. 

The mycelium mushroom acts as a natural pesticide and can help control populations of insects and bacteria by trapping and consuming them, Bulman says. This reduces the harm of the surrounding ecosystems with Climate Action. 

“In the sector of agriculture where mushroom cultivation is happening, this could really flourish,” she says. “They filter pollutants out of the environment, they’re being used in the role of bioremediation, they sequester carbon and support regenerative farming practices.” 

Bulman’s project focuses on the responsible consumption of spent products like straw, coffee grounds, and cocoa core that would have otherwise been composted or sent to a landfill. 

“[Mycelyum] wanted to understand more about this project and how they could be a part of it, because, I think, mushrooms are going to overtake the world,” Bulman says. “It’s exciting that everyone seems to be excited by mushrooms.” 

Bulman welcomes students to reach out to her if they have any questions about her research.