Today’s Solutions: January 29, 2023

Just when we thought mushrooms couldn’t get any cooler, a scientist from the University of West England recently published some more fabulous news about fungi and how they might communicate.

According to his findings, Professor Andrew Adamatzky believes that the electrical impulses mushrooms send out may actually be a sort of language. To reach this conclusion, Adamatzky took soil that contained mycelium, essentially the “root” of the fungi, and infused it with electrodes. He also put electrodes into the fruiting body of the mushrooms themselves, which is the part that we can see growing above the ground. For the study, Adamantzky analyzed the electrical activity of four different species of fungi: enoki, caterpillar, split gill, and ghost mushrooms. As reported by The Guardian, Adamantzky found evidence of a mushroom language that could have as many as 50 words.

In the study, he wrote: “we speculated that fungal electrical activity is a manifestation of the information communicated between distant parts of the fungal colonies.” In simpler terms, this means that these electrical signals could be an indication of mushrooms talking to each other, or the whole fungal network communicating with other parts of itself, much like how different parts of our bodies send messages to each other in order to function properly as a whole.

Despite Adamatzky’s hypothesis, he is also open to the idea that the sounds generated by the electrical movements within fungi hold no meaning and are simply a collection of noises. This doesn’t mean that he has no faith in his hypothesis, but his open stance toward skepticism and feedback instead makes his current and future findings all the more reliable.

Whether or not Adamtzky is able to prove that mushrooms have a secret electrical language, there is no doubt that mushrooms and the sounds they generate are fascinating, regardless of their significance. It’s already known that mushrooms emit electrical activity that can even be made to “sing”, which is sure to keep us entertained until scientists can determine the language capacities of our favorite fungi.

Source study: Royal Society Open Science—Language of fungi derived from their electrical spiking activity

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