Do Mushrooms Communicate Through Language? A Fungi Expert Delves More into It

By Stephen M

Almost all the organisms on this planet communicate with each other in a particular form. While humans use plain language, animals do dance, squeak or bellow to communicate. Plants also use chemical signals released through the leaves and roots. Do fungi like mushrooms also communicate?

Computer scientist, Andrew Adamatzky, in new research proposes that fungi do communicate in a more complicated electrical “language” than ever thought. The study conducted at the Unconventional Computing Laboratory of the University of the West of England also suggests that fungi may be using “words and sentences” in communicating with others.

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How communication happens

Multi-cellular organisms communicate within and between themselves through a complex system involving nerves or neurons. The nerves transmit messages through the nervous system from one part of the organism to other parts. The language or message travels through the nervous system in the form of impulses understandable to the organisms involved. This is what helps organisms to detect and respond to communication around them.

Although fungi have no nervous system, they likely communicate via electrical impulses sent through thread-like filaments called hyphae. These filaments link other fungal colonies within the soil through a thin web known as mycelium.

The research procedure

Adamatzky conducted his research on four species of fungi. He used tiny electrodes to record the periodic electrical impulses transmitted through the mycelium of the fungi. The results showed differences in impulse in terms of duration, amplitude, and frequency.

After drawing a mathematical comparison between the impulse patterns, he suggests that they form the basis of fungi language. The language comprises about 50 words forming a sentence. However, the languages used by the four researched species differed from one another in terms of complexity. Among the tested lots, schizophyllum commune was identified as the species with the most complicated pattern of language.

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The research, therefore, proposes the possibility of fungi having an electrical language for communicating among themselves. They likely share information about food, potential dangers, and damages to others.