Science & Tech

Mushrooms appear to have 'conversations' with each other after it rains

Mushrooms appear to have 'conversations' with each other after it rains
Local health experts warn of foraging for wild mushrooms amid uptick in …

What do you reckon the chattiest vegetable is?

The answer may be mushrooms, as according to a new study from scientists in Japan, rain may prompt some fungi to communicate using underground electrical signals.

In a study published in Fungal Ecology , researchers monitored small, tan mushrooms known as bicoloured deceivers in the mixed forest at the Kawatabi Field Science Center of Tohoku University in Japandorm.

They looked at the 'shrooms electrical potential, measured in megavolts (mV), for about two days in late September and early October 2021. The study site was initially sunny and dry, and the second was during rain - at which point the mushrooms showed some electrical potential and signal transport between each other.

Microbial ecologist Yu Fukasawa of Tohoku University said: "Our results confirm the need for further studies on fungal electrical potentials under a true ecological context."

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Previously, scientists had found that these mushrooms make subterranean "sheaths" around the exterior of a tree's roots.

These sheaths are made of hyphae and when they link underground they form interconnected systems known as mycorrhizal networks that allow forests communicate via chemical signals down tree roots and mycorrhizal fungi.

And a 2022 study found patterns of nerve-like electrical activity in some fungi that seem comparable to the structure of human speech. The study identified up to 50 different "words," or groups of spikes in electrical activity, generated by fungal networks.

Earlier research has also found that plants can send secret electrical signals underground, possibly even without help from mycorrhizal fungi.

Who knew mushrooms had so much to say?

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