Fly Agaric Mushrooms At A Meeting

Mushroom Talk

Beneath the verdant canopy of a forest, a silent dialogue is in progress – a conversation between trees, plants, and fungi. The conversation occurs across an intricate network of communication, enabled by the delicate threads of fungal mycelium. And this, it seems, shapes the very fabric of the forest ecosystem.

This communications network sometimes referred to humorously as “The Wood-Wide Web,” was first discovered by Canadian ecologist Suzanne Simard in the 1990s. That was 30 years ago. The intricate web of mycelium, whose network of filaments are called hyphae, acts as a conduit for nutrients, water, and information. There is a general symbiosis that takes place between network participants. The fungi, for their part, break down dead plant matter and thus recycle nutrients that are essential to plants and trees, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. In exchange for this service, plants provide fungi with sugars and carbohydrates, created through photosynthesis.

The two distinctly different branches of life could probably not exist without each other. The thread-like hyphae, which comprise the network, send and receive chemical signals (hormones and enzymes), but they also send and receive electric signals. These signals are can travel long distances. They have been shown to play a role in a variety of mushroom behaviors, such as foraging for food, defending against predators, and coordinating reproduction.

Fungal Language

Fungal communication is a complex process that is still being investigated. Recent research demonstrates that fungi use electrical signals to communicate with each other. The signals that the fungi emit can be grouped into patterns that resemble words. These “words” are thought to be made up of spikes of electrical activity that vary in amplitude, frequency, and duration. The patterns of these spikes convey information about the environment, such as the location of food sources or threats. Thus far, 50 words are thought to have been identified. The amount of time taken to “speak” one of these words is similar to the time taken to speak human words – roughly 10-20% longer.

The question of whether Fungal language and neural impulses in animal nervous systems are related naturally asks itself. Fungi and animal life have a far distant common ancestor – a single-celled eukaryote that split into separate lineages about a billion years ago. It is possible that the communications capability of fungi existed at that time.

From the perspective of Objective Science, electric communications are almost certainly substances at the level of H48. They are experienced in animal life as nerve impulses at the same level as impressions. And, clearly, the electrical Fungal “words” are impressions of some kind. Structurally, the behavior of animal neural networks and fungal networks seems very similar.