A new study from the University of Bristol, UK, suggests that fungi conduct electrical signals which have patterns strikingly similar to human speech. They use this electrical language, sent through underground mycelia, to share information about food or injury with distant parts of themselves. Or, with connected partners such as trees. The research examined patterns of electric spikes generated in four species of fungi by inserting tiny microelectrodes into substrates colonized by their mycelia. These spikes were often clustered into trains of activity, resembling vocabularies of up to 50 words. The research is not without its critics, however. Although Dan Bebber, an associate professor at the University of Exeter, finds the research interesting. The interpretation as language seems somewhat overenthusiastic, he says.

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