Fungal Communication: How Plants Talk to Each Other

You may not consider plants to be terribly talkative, but the truth is that they are constantly communicating. Plants talk to each other using an incredible underground system of fungus. Many biologists have started referring to this method of fungal communication as the ‘wood wide web’ or a fungal internet. Beneath the dirt, natural information superhighways called mycorrhizal networks allow plants to interact with one another and share information in astounding ways.

The Power of Mycelia

Mushrooms growing out of the ground

How is it possible for individual plants separated from one another to interact? The secret to plant communication is thanks to a part of fungi called mycelia. Mycelium is a vegetative network of white threadlike filaments connected to a fungus, like a mushroom.

Mycelia can connect to the roots of different plants, linking them together through this mass of threads. The mycelium can then act as a line of communication, allowing connected plants to share information, resources, and more. This network can hook together plants that are different species or separated by some distance.

The Benefits of Fungal Communication

The ability to communicate provides plants with a wide range of benefits. Using fungal networks, plants can share essential nutrients and issue warnings about incoming threats. For many plants, communication via mycelium is integral to their survival.

Nutrients and Resources

One major benefit of linking to the fungal network is that plants can share vital nutrients and help each other grow. Plants that are connected with mycelia can exchange carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, and more. Strong, mature trees can help seedlings survive and grow by sharing resources with them during times of scarcity.

Defense Against Threats

White Mushroom / Fungi

Along with sharing nutrients, plants are also able to use fungal communication to spread information. This ability is particularly helpful when it comes to defending against potential threats. If one plant is experiencing distress, it can release chemicals through the mycelia network to warn other plants of the risk.

For example, if one plant is attacked by harmful bacteria or fungi, they can then alert their neighbors to raise their defenses. Plants who receive this warning via the fungal network can then boost their immune systems and prepare a defense response.

Competition and Sabotage

The fungal network of communication is not always used for good and helpful purposes. Sometimes, plants use mycelium to steal resources, sabotage growth, and drive away competition.

Some plants have to fiercely compete with their neighbors for adequate resources, such as light, water, and nutrients. These plants may connect to the fungal network to get these essential elements to the detriment of other nearby plants. Using mycelia, plants are able to steal carbon, chlorophyll, and more.

Along with stealing, plants can also sabotage their neighbors by releasing harmful chemicals through the network. This type of attack reduces the likelihood that competing plants will be able to take root nearby.

Mushrooms and the Wood Wide Web

white mushroom bloom during daytime close-up photo

The incredible mycorrhizal networks that plants use to communicate help them survive and grow. Mycelium makes it possible for separate, individual plants to share important resources and information. This type of fungus-based internet highlights the remarkable importance of teamwork, even amongst plants and trees.

Fungi like mushrooms are fascinating for reasons beyond their communicative properties. There is also evidence to suggest that certain mushrooms can also provide benefits for humans. Mushrooms may be able to boost the health and functionality of the brain and body. To learn more about fungal communication and the potential health benefits of mushrooms, check out or call 855-937-4561 today!