GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York company that sells packaging material and furniture made with help from fungus says it has been awarded a $9.1 million defense contract.

Ecovative Design says the contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is to develop living building materials. An idea being explored would be to literally grow shelters or other structures in places where they are needed.

The Green Island-based company makes products with the help of mycelium (my-SEAL'-ee-uhm), the thread-like "roots" of mushrooms. The mycelium grows around small pieces of stalks and stems to create a bound-together material that can be molded into soft packaging or pressed into boards.

The project is funded under DARPA's Engineered Living Materials program.