Welcome, welcome. You are listening to the mushroom revival podcast. I am your host, Alex Dora. And we are about to dive into the wonderful, wacky, mysterious, incredible world of mushrooms and fungi. We bring on guests and experts from all around the world who seek out with us and go deep into this amazing, wonderful world. So today, we have you joining us to talk about the language of fungi. So you How are you doing today?
Unknown Speaker 0:42
Hi, I'm good. Thank you. Thank you for inviting today.
Of course, you want to give an introduction on who you are to the audience.
Speaker 2 0:50
Okay. I'm you've cassava, I'm an assistant professor in Tohoku University in Japan. And Tohoku is also a name of Legion in Japan, which means Nose, nose, eastern part of Japan, Japanese mainland. And I'm saying that I'm a forest microbiologist, and especially focusing on ecology of fungi, which is living in Deadwood. And one of my big, big research topic now is what is a distribution of the tooth fungi in the world related to climate, which is interesting topic about or subjected to climate change thing. And my question is, what is a function of different fungal community in day to day in day to day composition, and that effect on forest ecosystems Hall? Example, do you know about the difference of white rot on ground north in the tooth?
Yeah, yeah, yep, very for those who don't know, explain what the differences
Speaker 2 2:06
are Yes. In the case of brown rot, fungi, they compose on the cellulose and hemicellulose in depth and the deep lignin component, the activity in intact and because of the brown Cara or lignin, decayed wood becomes more brown and brown during decay process. But in the case of white rot, fungi can decay both lignin and cellulose and hemicellulose. And because of the removal of lignin, that would become a small white color during decay process. But not only the difference of the color, the physical, physical chemical properties are also very different. And which makes big difference big impact on communities over other organisms in giving in depth such as Moses Real Fights fly mores and insects for example, on bacteria, of course.
So yeah, the U N, a team of researchers were studying Lucario by color and hooking up some electrodes to it to sense the electric electric activity of of this this fungus what what did you find in doing this research?
Speaker 2 3:34
Yeah. And our research using electrodes on the top top on the bottom of the mushrooms, and we measured the difference of electrical activity of this interval for each mushrooms, and which we found was that electrical activity or the mushrooms increased after the raining because before the raining, we didn't have rain, almost two weeks and mushrooms are dried out. So, at the beginning of the measurement, we detect any activity of the electricity but after the raining there electrical electrical activity increases and and using that electrical data compare comparison between mushrooms we found that the possibility of electrical activity transfer signal transfer across mushrooms. And potential interesting thing is that there is potential directionality across mushrooms.
Do all living organisms produce electrical signals?
Speaker 2 4:49
I'm not sure about all organisms, but I think so yes, because this is a very basic mechanism in the cell. So if you If that organs have cell, a membrane, they can they can produce electrical activities.
And what what exactly are these signals doing?
Speaker 2 5:13
In the case of brain, you know that electrical signals can make very important message message transfer in this in brains. But in the case of mushrooms, we still don't know what is a function? And if you don't know if the electric electrical signals have some information or not. So that will be my next challenge in my research.
And they're, they're different from chemical signals, or do the chemicals also carry an electrical pulse? Just trying to wrap my head around it. I'm pretty new to this.
Speaker 2 6:02
Yeah, you know, mustard was also using chemical signals. Of course, they are using volatiles ortho chemicals in the air, as well as plants doing. But one advantage of the electrical signal transfer across heifer network is the speed that electrical signal transfer is very rapid compared to, for example, site cytoplasmic. Streaming and also using chemical transfer across AR.
And did you did you? You said you hooked up the electrodes to the top and bottom of the mushrooms. Were you? Were you testing the difference between the cap and the Stape? Yeah, yeah. And did you hook that up to the mycelium as well?
Speaker 2 6:51
That's a good question. We won't we wanted to do that. But is inserting extra rows in mycelium or Hi Fi in yet, in nature is very difficult. So yeah, it's technically difficult. There are some reports using a very fine electrode in laboratory to insert electro micro electrodes into the Hi Fi, but in in nature, it's quite difficult. But if we insert electrode in some thick cause, that could be possible.
Did you notice a difference between the cap and the state?
Speaker 2 7:40
Know about? Yes. I mean, I mean, what we are measuring this time is a difference of electrical activity between top and bottom of each mushroom. So if we detect some potentials, electrical potentials, that means there's difference. So the answer is yes, there is some difference in top between top and bottom. But we we don't know which part of the mushrooms was activated Saturday this time, because this is just a difference between top and the bottom we mentioned.
Yeah. And one paper that has been pretty popular in the last couple of years was Andrew Adamski 's paper called The language of fungi derived from their electrical spiking activity where he was trying to crack crack the code for a language of mushrooms and trying to take the graphs and you know, the spikes and everything and correlate them to, you know, language syntax, basically, if, like, how many how many words in a language and things like that? What's, what's your take on this? Is this feasible?
Speaker 2 9:03
Yeah, that's, it's that research is so impressive. And that interesting, very long linguistic analysis on Marshmallow spiking. Yeah, that's so interesting, but at the moment, this that, that research is just a comparison and analysis of patterns. And we, again, we still don't know if the pattern has meaning and the information and function and even function in mushrooms. That's,
I mean, it's a must, right. Sorry. I mean, it must, right. I mean, if the organism is doing it, there must be some some function or reason behind it. Yeah. Yeah. Do you do you think it would be possible or is that one of your goals to try to help crack that code?
Speaker 2 9:55
Yes. That that's so interesting point and our neck challenge will be that kind of research detecting or testing if the electrical signals of information and function in fungi.
Yeah, I thought it was interesting that he tested multiple mushrooms, and he noticed that they all had different, quote unquote, languages, or they were saying different things. And some mushrooms were more complex than others, which was, yeah, it was really interesting. And I was reading some comments that were left by people who have read the paper, and they were saying how some people were really wanting to create some sort of like community database, some sort of like Rosetta Stone, so to speak, where, you know, researchers all around the world had, you know, as many different species of fungi as possible, and they would stimulate the same test over and over again, you know, like, you'd have a, you know, an oyster mushroom on a petri plate of the mycelium and then you, you know, give it or, you know, the mushroom, and then you put a, a thing of water in front of it, or you light it on fire, or, you know, give it some food or, you know, you do you do these basic things, and then test what the response is. And then, from that you kind of piece it together over time. And it seems like then you could monitor fungi and see see kind of what, what's going on. And what, what are they actually saying, right?
Speaker 2 11:49
Yeah, yeah, other muskies research, as you explained other muskies research using some artists show impacts are to show disturbance, such as fire, and salt addiction and water droplet. And that impact on electricity of mushrooms and potential, similar transfer across mushrooms connected by my Syria. But in my, in my research, I really didn't use that kind of artificial disturbance on mushrooms, we just measure natural pattern of activist electrical activities of mushrooms and compare the pattern statistically, and to detect if the pattern can transfer from one mushrooms to another. So there's a big there's a big difference about technical difference between my research and other muskies research. But basically, the conclusion will be the same just electrical signal transform across mushrooms.
Right, right. You said you said you're measuring whether the electrical signal jumped from mushroom to mushroom? Is that what you said?
Unknown Speaker 13:02
Yeah, yes, yes.
And were you able to conclude that that was the case?
Speaker 2 13:10
Yes, because our research is comparing patterns of electrical activity across mushrooms statistically and that the significance of the possibility of the signal transfer. So, this is not the direct evidence of their transfer of electrical signal is caused by some impacts. But yes,
and I skimmed another paper which I know that you cited in in your paper and it was talking about creating a fungal computer. Then Andrew also wrote, do you know I tried it kind of went a little over my head and I was hoping that you have read the paper and you sort of know what he was talking about with creating a fungal computer with with the same sort of technology.
Speaker 2 14:17
Yeah, I'm not sure what whole research about other muskies mushroom computer fungal computer, but as long as I understand my understanding, mushroom computer is like using Mushrooms, mushrooms. ability to manage information across their mycelium networks to to computing I saw I mean, yeah, if they if they are transferring information, electricity, electric rock, activities across Marsh across The mycelium networks, there should be some information management. And there's possibility that kind of information management or mycelium networks, we can use that for computing. I think.
Has anyone done any research on the electrical signals between the mycorrhizal fungi and their partner plants?
Speaker 2 15:27
mycorrhizal fungi? Yes, very, researchers are very limited. But I think that the David Johnson in the UK is working on that kind of things. And his work is in laboratory pot kind of pot experiment using cultivated plants connected by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. And I think they detect some electrical signal transfer from plants to mycorrhizal fungi. But not not sure.
Is this is this? Do humans have electrical signal transfer with any other organisms?
Speaker 2 16:16
I don't know. from human to other organisms.
Yeah, other humans are. I'm just trying to I also have no idea what an electrical signal is. Like, I'm picturing is it? Is it different than electricity running through a wire? Like what exactly is is an electrical signal? Is it actual electricity? Like what? Or is it just called that? i That might be a really dumb question. But
Speaker 2 16:52
yeah, that's a big question. Ah, yeah. No idea. Sorry.
Okay. Okay. Yeah, maybe we haven't cracked the code yet. Well, I don't know if you've read the paper recently. But a it was kind of going around and a lot of people were poking fun with it, because some researchers found that when you cut open most if not all plants, they lead out a high pitched ultrasonic scream when you cut them. And people were sharing the article being like, hey, you know, like, sharing it and like tagging vegans and vegetarians like like they have feelings too. And has this been tested with mushrooms ever? Like do mushrooms scream when when you cut them?
Speaker 2 17:47
I'm not sure about ultrasonic screaming in fungi, but as you said that Andrew other muskies work is just like that kind of thing saving that kind of things, because because he is using artificial disturbance on mushrooms and potential signal transfer across mushrooms caused by that impact. Do you think that's a screening or no?
Do you think hypothetically you know if we decode fungal language as as a whole as best as we can, you know? Would do you think we would be able to send signals to say you know, influence the fungi or the mushrooms to say grow faster? Or, you know, say send it through mycorrhizal network to make the tree grow faster, crave fruits, you know, like morels or whatever, like it, would this be possible to pretty much communicate with fungi?
Speaker 2 18:58
Yeah, that's also big question and interesting. Well, when we measure the electrical activity of mycelium, this is not my work, but other previous researchers showed that if if they put bait that in this case, the bait is wood particle, because the fungi is I believe, that is oyster mushroom or so mushroom is kind of with the decay fungi. So, that is with particle and the if in the when when they put with particle on cultivated mycelium, the electrical pulse interval electrical powers increased greatly. And after they put off the bait in electrical signal interval decreases. So there are some pattern associate aided with environmental conditions such as addition of bait, so if we mimic the pattern of electrical activity and send, send the pattern to the mushrooms, probably, we can do some communication with fungi, I believe.
So I just Googled this and it is electricity. I feel like an idiot because I was reading that and being like, okay, you know, like, I've heard of electrical signaling in organisms. And every time I've ever read that I've just, I thought that they were just calling it that, and it wasn't actually electricity. There was just, you know, a fun name that they it was like electricity, but it wasn't like, Yeah, our bodies are sending electricity. That's nuts. I had no idea. That's insane. Wow. And fungi as well, they are they have they're sending electricity through their, their system. That's insane. I mean, we're, it's pretty wild. Like we're going into an age where we're merging with AI and robots. And we we think, you know, just because they're powered by electricity, again, that they're so far off from us, but they're really not. Yeah, I mean, we're just, we're just, we're just computers just like them. I have a friend and I can't speak too much about it, because I'm under an NDA, but he is working on batteries and using fungal components for it. And do you? Is this something of interest for you? Have you looked in the application of, of using, you know, some of these fungal electrical signals to help with our battery production make a more sustainable battery?
Speaker 2 22:06
That's also interesting. Not fungi. But my colleague is working on bacterial bacteria to using batteries. And because some kind of bacteria is living in gut of livestocks. And, and her research is about using a bacteria community in gut to treat wastewaters and at the same time, activity of bacteria, electricity to some batteries, but I've heard that the electrical activity of bacteria is very, very small, small like that. Yeah. So they use that for batteries.
And most of your other papers that you've ever written or contributed to are about wood decay fungi. Yes. So what what made you do this paper about electrical signaling and fungi? Do you hope to interweave both of these topics?
Speaker 2 23:19
Yeah, for example, probably you know, that mycelial networks of armeria Honey mushroom is can become very huge, sometimes cover a whole forest like more than 900 hectares. So my, my dream is to detect if that that big mycelial networks transfer some signals across the networks or not. And and, you know, Armillaria species is kind of data with funghi. So if their information transfer has some functions on the activities, we probably we can detect the difference of the two decay activity across their networks caused by information transfer. Thus, whoa, that's so interesting.
And what what inspired you to get into web decay fungi?
Unknown Speaker 24:25
I'll say again, sorry.
What? What initially got you interested in wood decay fungi?
Speaker 2 24:33
Oh, okay. Um, because that wood has very diverse organism communities. Not only fungi, but also mosses and insects and bacteria and slime balls, and also plants, plants on the top of the deadwood And one of my research topic, current research topic is What is the effect of the toad fungal activity on NASS logs. I mean, some tree species require that to for their regeneration in the forest, for example, spruce, a kind of conifers need NASS logs for their regeneration. And my my research in my research what I found was the difference in decay type brown and white decay decay type as huge impact on degeneration of tree seedlings on death. For example, spruce seedlings cannot degenerate well on Round Rock dipped into it but they can degenerate very good nicely on White wrote the tooth but in the case of video fight, cover, develop on groundwater do it that that rocks can be a good regeneration microsite for spruce trees. So I'm, I was fascinated by that kind of organisms, interactions associated with the tooth fungal communities.
What's what's been the hardest part of all your research with the electrical signaling then also your research on what to K.
Speaker 2 26:37
About about electrical activities of mushrooms, we already have set of techniques, detecting the electrical activities, so we don't have any difficulties, technical difficulties, but one difficulty working in nature is that we have to adjust season says now we have to adjust our activity to nature. I mean, on the one chance in ear to measure electrical activity of mushrooms because mushroom fruiting can be only one season in the year.
And what has been the most rewarding part? Or your favorite part?
Speaker 2 27:31
Oh, yeah, that's, that's definitely when we detect potential signal transfer grows mushrooms in the field. Yeah, because other muskies work in laboratory detect some electrical trance signal transfer already. But our research is the first to detect that in nature in the field. So that's so fascinating thing. And because I like Forest, so walking in the forest is my most relaxing time of my
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, it's it's, yeah, what a what a treasure to be able to work in, in the woods in nature. I mean, that's, it's, it's beautiful. Not, not too many people can do that. And most people are working in cubicles, and they get promoted to maybe look out a window and see a parking lot with a tree in it or something. So to be out in the woods, putting electrodes on mushrooms and calling that your job is pretty cool. That's pretty awesome. Thank you. What I'm what research do this is kind of a two part question. But what research do you personally want to do in the future then what research do you want to see done?
Speaker 2 28:59
Oh, yes, because I'm interested in what distribution of wood decay fungi and what is the effect of temperature and climate on difference in fungal community in depth. So, I want to travel all around the world to the compare the fungal community in the tooth in many tree species. And this is one of my dream and also as I already said, I am interested in the communication across mushrooms in large Armillaria network. So I'm yeah, this is also my future challenge.
Do you have large Armillaria patches in Japan? Ah, or any?
Speaker 2 29:53
I don't know. I think some reports from Oregon in US Yeah, and also Swiss from Swiss I, I think what? Okay, yes. Yes. No bug, but never heard from Japan. So, yeah, I have to start from that. Detecting Lies Armillaria network in Japan.
Yeah. Yeah, no, Japan's been on my list for forever to go and visit and I feel like I have to take a whole month just to experience it all and yeah, yeah, I would, I would love to come and see see what kind of mushrooms are are popping over there and, and stick some electrodes and things? Yes. Well, cool. Where can people follow your work? Sorry, where can people read your papers? Following your work? I don't know if you have a website or just on ResearchGate now I
Speaker 2 31:02
have websites about that it was written in Japanese so I have to improve that in English. But I also have
we have listeners from around the world. So there there's probably at least a few people listening that that can read Japanese. So link it anyways yeah.
Unknown Speaker 31:22
I also have to account so please visit
Yes. Okay, sweet. Well, thank you for coming on the show and thank you for everyone tuning in and trimming in this was a short and sweet episode but kind of opens the doors for viewing fungi in a new way and what the hell they're talking about underneath the soil and and and above the soil and hopefully one day that we can crack the code and talk to our fellow mushroom beings which would be really really cool to figure out what they're talking about and and I mean, we could just eat five grams of magic mushrooms to have a conversation but but the other ones as well it's it's I think this is a really cool line of research and and just what's going on in our ecology with with wood decay and beyond what what are fungi What are they doing is kind of the big the big questions. So thank you everyone for tuning in and tuning in. If you if you learn something new in this episode, tell your friends tell your family about the mushroom revival podcast and cool things that you're learning. leave a review and check out our website at WWW dot mushroom revival.com We have a whole line of mushroom products from tinctures capsules gummies powders and we also have a giveaway going on. And it is in the link of this podcast description. And if you want to win a free mushroom products you can enter the giveaway and we'll we will give a winner some some mushroom goodies. So that's about it for this week. Much love and made the spores be with you
Transcribed by https://otter.ai