Recent research has found mushrooms may be more magical than we expected.
A study, conducted by Professor Andrew Adamatzky from the University of the West of England, found that mushrooms appear to “talk” with each other via electrical signals.
Remarkable, observations done during the experiment showed that electrical spikes often occurred in clusters similar to human speech.
Scientists have been studying whether plants can communicate since the 1970s.
Research has been published over the last decade that shows they use chemical messages in the air and soil to share information.
This sharing of information makes it possible for them to warn each other about potential threats or changes to their environment.
Anyone interested in the fantastic world of fungi knows the mycelium network plays a massive role in helping plants communicate with each other.
Hyphae are like roots and when they form a network, it’s called mycelium. And it's this mycelium network that makes communication between fungi possible.
Current research suggests that mushrooms and fungi may have unique “languages” between species.
In this new study, they focused on four species of mushroom: enoki, split gill, ghost, and caterpillar fungus.
What they discovered is somewhat amazing!
The researchers inserted electrodes into substrates colonised by the hyphae of mushrooms and analysed the electrical activity.
They found mushrooms appear to “talk” with each other via electrical signals, with electrical spikes often occurred in clusters similar to human speech.
Translating fungi language
Professor Adamatzky translated the electrical signal spikes into binary strings. From this, he could work out various 'words'.
The complexity of the language is varied with each species, with the split gill mushroom 'speaking' the most complicated 'sentences' of those tested, having a vocabulary of up to 50 different words.
Adamatzy stated that the most likely reasons for the spikes in electrical activity are to keep the fungi’s integrity or to report discovered sources of attractants and repellents to other parts of their mycelia.
The next challenge would be to translate this “language” into English.
“We are yet to decipher the language of cats and dogs despite living with them for centuries, and research into the electrical communication of fungi is in its pure infant stage. Imagine if one day you could Google Translate ‘I hope you don’t mind me doing this’ into a fungi’s language and play it back to them for a guilt-free shiitake hunt.”
The professor clarified that this is not definitive proof, stating:
“There is also another option–they are saying nothing. Propagating mycelium tips are electrically charged, and, therefore, when the charged tips pass in a pair of differential electrodes, a spike in the potential difference is recorded. Whatever these ‘spiking events’ represent, they do not appear to be random.”