Fungi are intriguing organisms. Not only have we discovered radiation-hungry fungi and even zombie mushrooms that might help cure cancer, but we’ve also learned that fungi can communicate with each other in ways that we never realized.
According to a new paper featured in the journal Fungal Ecology, ectomycorrhizal fungi, which grow as capped stalks above the ground, also form massive networks of roots that stretch outward underground, allowing them to talk to each other.
Further, these fungi appear to communicate to each other for several reasons. The fungi warn each other about dangerous diseases or insects, and they also coordinate the growth of the groups, so that all the fungi can grow in a way which will allow them to get the maximum nutrients.
While we have known about the existence of these mycelial networks, the study of them has been difficult, and often limited to tests within laboratory setups. A group of scientists has conducted a study in the field to gain more information about how fungi communicate.
The results also show that the mushrooms seem to be more active in their communication after a fresh shower of rain. To study the communications, the group attached electrodes to six mushrooms in a cluster. The group then measured electrical signals between mushrooms and found that the fluctuations occurred over time.
However, they discovered that the signals spiked after rainfall, leading them to believe that the fungi communicate more intensely after fresh rain has fallen. The signals were also much stronger between mushrooms that were closer together.
Future studies like this could help scientists better investigate the electrical communication between fungi in real-world locations. It could also help us better understand these intriguing organisms, which have so many different types throughout our world.
Understanding fungi, and even how fungi communicate is important because these organisms play a critical role in the ecological systems that rule many forests and woodlands.
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