Fungi Talk To One Another And Perhaps To Plants. It Sounds Like Dr Doolittle But It Isn’t A Myth. It’s True & We Are Getting Closer To Understanding How Fungi Talk & Learning Fungal Languages.

A Forest of Fungi
A Forest of Fungi

I’ve never heard fungi talk but then I’ve never “heard” sign language. But we don’t doubt that deaf people talk via sign language. The thing is fungi don’t used sound to talk to one another. They use electrical signals. And so do many other organisms, such as protozoa, slime mould and plants.

We shouldn’t doubt the existence of electrical communications. Our own bodies use electrical signalling within our nervous system. It’s quick and efficient. Arguably it is better than using sound with all its limitations.

Communicating Without Nervous Systems: How Fungi Talk

Lots of invertebrates, and even organisms without nervous systems, use various forms of language. Some also use chemicals to communicate .. as do some insects. And it was by observing an important insect, the bee, that Karl Von Frisch won his Nobel Prize for the detection of bee languages and dialects. In the early 80s the language of ants was slo examined and they were seen to use a complex “ant language”.

Recent Fungi Language Research

During 2021 Andrew Adamatzky published his research on Fungi Language and Electrical Spiking Activity on the website of thge Royal Society. He had researched four species of fungi by using pairs of iridium coated stainless steel sub dermal needles into the substrate the fungi had colonised and recording the electrical activity.

The untie included F. velutipes (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.211926), Cordyceps militaris, Omphalotus nidiformis and Schizophyllum commune. The latter was apparently very talkative!

The recorded electrical pulses were translated into binary and 50 “words” were identified.

Of course we don’t yet know wha the words means. And we aren’t exactly making an encounter of the third kind (or perhaps we are and don’t know it). And there’s no suggestion of intelligence or a specific level of intelligence. But its early days and who knows where this will lead.Though in this video Paul Stammets talks about fungal intelligence.

 

What We Know About Fungal Interactions

We know that within the rhizosphere there are interactions between plants and fungi. As yet we don’t know if they “talk” and if so what they discuss. But we do know that they exchange nitrogen, carbon and other elements. Plus we know fungo can supply water to plants.  It seems to be a mutual process rather than one organisms enslving or coercing the other. But we know so little. It’s only in recent years that the mutualism between fungi and plants has started to be researched. When I trained my tutors made no mention of it. It was unknown.

In a few years we might know far more. But what I know now is that underfoot is a vast array of fungal mycelium. It’s probably the most biodiverse part of the planet. And its unlikely to be mute!

There’s more on fungi if you follow this link.

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