Mushrooms are chitchatting!

Analysis of the fungi’s electrical signals has shown language patterns similar to human speech

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New research has concluded that mushrooms have the ability to communicate with each other using up to 50 words.

Professor Andrew Adamatzky from the University of the West of England, Bristol spoke to ELN about the process which was followed to reach the finding.

He said the electrical activity was measured with a USB data logger which is able to detect small signal changes, named Pico ADC-24.

Professor Adamatzky said: “The whole procedure was as follows: I inserted electrodes in substrate colonised by fungal mycelium and I observed action-potential like spiking.

“After I found that the spikes group in trains, I collected and analysed statistics on train lengths.”

After comparing the distribution of the spikes’ train lengths with the distribution of word lengths in human languages, Professor Adamatzky said he found similarities.

He then reconstructed the potential syntax of fungal language using probabilistic techniques.

Asked about how powerful are these electrical signals, the author of the study said: “We record using extracellular electrodes so the signal is weak, in the range of one to ten millivolts (mV), typically spike amplitude is one to three mV.”

Professor Adamatzky added about the similarities between fungi and human speech: “The average length of spike train of fungi is similar to the average length of a word in English and distributions of spike train lengths and word lengths have a similar shape.”

Previously, other studies had shown that patterns of electrical activity change in response to electrical, optical, chemical and mechanical stimulation.

The study was published in the Royal Society Open Science.

Image: Irina Petrova Adamatzky

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