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A Friend in Fungus

A Friend in Fungus

Above: Schizophyllum commune or split-gill mushrooms, one of the species used in the study.

When you pick up some white mushrooms at the grocery to cook dinner, the last thing you'd expect is to find a lively conversation going on in the box. After all, mushrooms don't talk… right? Well, according to a recent study fungi might actually be capable of communicating— just not verbally of course.

The study takes a close look at the electric signals fungi send to each other through their fibrous hyphae and found some interesting data. The species of mushrooms, enoki, split gill, and caterpillar fungi, demonstrated spikes and clusters of electric signals which are thought to be similar to speech patterns. Does that mean mushrooms are able to communicate with words and language? Maybe not that complex. The electric signals could be similar to how animals can warn other members of their species with a call or howl.

What exactly do mushrooms have to talk about anyway? As it turns out, quite a bit! It could be that they communicate in order to stay synchronized in their growth and integrity. It's also been studied that some species of fungus can share nutrients with each other or even plants in a mutualistic relationship!

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