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Plants Communicate Using Fungi

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the shroom-phone dept.

Science 91

Shipud writes "In response to aphid attacks, some plants produce chemicals that repel the aphids and attract wasps, the aphids' natural enemies. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have shown that plants attacked by aphids can communicate that information to neighboring plants via existing networks of fungi in the soil. Thus fungal symbiosis with plants is shown to be taken one step further: not only do they provide nutrients to plants, they also function as communication hardware."

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91 comments

COMMINCATION BREAKDOWN !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470455)

So put some cream on the fungus, or better, bleach it out !!

Some day... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470487)

The vegetarians will be slaughtered for their terrible crimes aginst plantkind.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470707)

Yeah, that's great. Nobody can eat anything now except rocks! Well, until we find out the rocks use erosion to pass their grains on to other rocks to talk about the weather.

Re:Some day... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470753)

The vegetarians are our allies in our fight for freedom from our plant oppressors!

--Fungi Liberation Front

Re:Some day... (1)

r1348 (2567295) | about 8 months ago | (#44471361)

Oddly enough, vegetarians have no problem in eating mushrooms. Once I tried to explain a vegetarian the difference, to no use.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471583)

The word "vegetarian" has always been sloppily defined. It can include the consumption of milk, eggs, and honey for example. Also, it almost always includes the consumption of bacteria.

And, as you have just learned, fungi.

So, it isn't at all odd that some vegetarians will happily eat mushrooms.

Yeah, I know, woosh and all that.

Re:Some day... (1)

desertfish (571552) | about 8 months ago | (#44472065)

It's not odd. Fungi are not in the animal kingdom. However, it is odd that they eat plenty of animal products, which are not vegetables.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44481687)

The difference from animals is the same than that of plants: No central nervous systems, which implies no suffering. You jerks need to grow up.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471135)

You don't have to kill a plant to be able to eat from it.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471433)

Same is true for an animal!

Re:Some day... (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 8 months ago | (#44471449)

You don't have to kill a plant to be able to eat from it.

Nope, you just have to kill its unborn babies.

Re:Some day... (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | about 8 months ago | (#44471893)

We generally don't eat fertilized eggs, dude.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44475487)

You've obviously not been to China...

Re:Some day... (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 8 months ago | (#44476599)

I've met people who will swear to me that fertilized eggs taste so much superior that they will refuse to eat unfertilized. Of course, there's no way to tell if it's been fertilized or not without cracking it, so I'm not sure what they do with all the "rejects."

Re:Some day... (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 8 months ago | (#44477997)

Of course, there's no way to tell if it's been fertilized or not without cracking it,

Of course there is; haven't you ever heard of candling eggs?

Re:Some day... (4, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44471929)

Not at all. Fruit is in many (most?) cases an evolutionary "bargain" - the fruit provides a calorie-rich meal for an animal, while the animal then transports the seeds and deposits them in a pile of fertilizer at a distance much. Not all the seeds survive the process, but enough to be a viable way for the plant to spread. Just one of many examples of how plants harness animals to do their bidding.

Besides which vegetables are typically harvested from the adult plant, it's only fruits, nuts, and grains that include seeds.

Re:Some day... (1)

ffcitatos (2763415) | about 8 months ago | (#44475377)

Well, taking the same perspective on evolution does not take long to conclude that chickens have struck a bargain with us. We eat them and their eggs, while making their population larger than ever before.

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44475575)

Exactly.

The web of life is much more intricate, subtle, vast and smooth than they taught you in third grade. Congratulations. You are now ready for some college-level courses in biology.

Re:Some day... (1)

azhitsky (618606) | about 8 months ago | (#44542533)

For all I know, modern vegetarians deliver most of plant seeds and bio-fertilizer to a nearest sanitation system. That is a terrible disrespect to the reproductive aims of our "plantkind" brothers!

Re:Some day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44475729)

I'm just waiting to point out to a right-to-life vegetarian that each seed contains an embryo so that each bean, grain of rice, or kernel of corn they eat is a tiny abortion in their mouth.

The cries of the carrots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471325)

And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber.
And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself.
And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest.
And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil. One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear.
And terror possessed me then.
And I begged, "Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?" And the angel said unto me, "These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots! You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBbG3XseHIo

Re:Some day... (1)

blue trane (110704) | about 8 months ago | (#44473963)

It's about harm reduction. Eating an apple is less harmful than slaughtering a cow, because the plant's survival strategy is to spread its seeds through birds eating the fruit and carrying the seeds to far-off lands. But the cow doesn't want to be slaughtered.

Re:Some day... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#44474329)

But the cow doesn't want to be slaughtered.

Not yet, but give the genegineers some time. We'll wind up with cows that self-slaughter on schedule.

Re:Some day... (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 8 months ago | (#44475135)

Considering that by far the best way for genes to spread is for humans find the organism tasty, you could argue that, evolutionary, the cow does want to be eaten.

Or, to put if differently, the survival strategy of any farmed organisms is to be eaten, so that humans will make sure that a lot of its children survive long enough to be eaten.

Pussy holes belong to us men! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470489)

Women need to get it through their sick, useless skulls that men own their pussy holes. Rape is okay any day as long as it's a woman being raped. It is absolutely trivial to prove that women are nothing more than objects that suck tadpoles from the cocks of us men for our pleasure; after all, if that isn't true, then why do cocks fit into vaginas? You women just need to learn your place! Women have no rights!

This topic is relevant to my interests... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#44470503)

Anybody else overcome by Alpha Centauri nostaliga at the notion of large, initially hidden, fungus-based communications networks?

Also, given that we've discovered several enormous fungi (I think the largest known spreads across some 2,200 acres), I wonder if this sort of thing is actually much more common than we currently know. Ping would probably suck; but there is a lot of (fungal) fiber in the ground.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470547)

Now we just need some mindworms!

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (2)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about 9 months ago | (#44470775)

I think the largest known spreads across some 2,200 acres

That's the NSA super fungus processing centre, created for intercepting spores.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471669)

At the NSA, it's colloquially known as the "Mushroom Cloud."

Thank you, thank you! I'll be here all week. Don't ask me why. Try the Chicken Tetrachloride.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about 8 months ago | (#44471165)

Great, which city is working on "Ascent to Transcendence?" Dammit, It was Detroit wasn't it. Lets hope solar activity stays low. Otherwise a certain city is going to get nerve stapled.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44474215)

I'm shedding a tear for all the glyphosate used, as its primary function is to disrupt natural soil flora while gradually tilting the balance in favor of more aggressive invaders. Goodbye soil, now we know what happened to all the farmland that's now "needing" fifty times the RoundUp to do the same job as it did four years ago.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#44474315)

Anybody else overcome by Alpha Centauri nostaliga at the notion of large, initially hidden, fungus-based communications networks?

If by "overcome" you mean induced to play it until it crashes, no. But I was reminded of it as well.

Ping would probably suck; but there is a lot of (fungal) fiber in the ground.

At least they seem to have working multicast.

Re:This topic is relevant to my interests... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 8 months ago | (#44476727)

Anybody else overcome by Alpha Centauri nostaliga at the notion of large, initially hidden, fungus-based communications networks?

Also, given that we've discovered several enormous fungi (I think the largest known spreads across some 2,200 acres), I wonder if this sort of thing is actually much more common than we currently know. Ping would probably suck; but there is a lot of (fungal) fiber in the ground.

Credit goes to the wasps: they are the ones that adapted to use the scent of the aphid-repellent to identify a new food source. I think the potential in the fungus is a bit overrated, but hey what's cool is cool.

Welcome to three months ago (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470505)

Old news [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Welcome to three months ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470577)

and this type of communication using fungus throught the soil has been known for years.

Re:Welcome to three months ago (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 months ago | (#44470719)

and this type of communication using fungus throught the soil has been known for years.

But it's really slow.

Re:Welcome to three months ago (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 9 months ago | (#44470805)

Fixed that for you: I've posted a link elsewhere in these replies that welcomes you to September, 2012 on CBC TV's "The Nature Of Things".

There, that's better.

Pandora? (2)

killfixx (148785) | about 9 months ago | (#44470537)

Neat... ...would be terrible if this fungi network were to cross colonize with the fungus that makes zombie ants... [wikipedia.org]

Cheers!

Re:Pandora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470633)

Maybe that stuff does happen, but to a different tone for humans. For instance, one can eat "shrooms" and experience reasons to better their lives. One can drink Ayawaska and have the same sort of experience.

Re:Pandora? (3, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#44471713)

What would suck is if cats could communicate not just vocally, but also via cat posture semaphore in web video and imagery, and had developed a symbiotic virus that infects humans to enslave them to better communicate with each other.

I'm glad that could never happen. [go.com]

Fungi = planet brain? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470557)

It's amazing to investigate fungi. In all of our space search for intelligent life, we stand on top of a living world that's far more complex than we can imagine. When we beings were evolving from very simple biology, at some point we split, and in one direction eventually became plants, and the other eventually became animals. After that split, there was another split. On that split, one direction eventually became animals, and the other direction eventually became fungi. In each split, as it were, there was a fundamental difference; each time a split occurs, one can associate one side with being more or less complex than the other side. Looking at this as one would look at a tree in nature, one can assume that each split can be represented as a node point, and at each node point, there is a stem, and a main branch that continues. Each stem represents less complexity. In our case, as humans, we split before the fungi did, so they're more advanced than humans are.

I once asked my daughter about a Venus FlyTrap, as it ate a frog. I asked, "How does the plant know to close like that, and eat the thing inside? We have brains, but how does the plant do it? Where's the plant's brain?" Her answer, "The roots are the brain". She's 6.

Re:Fungi = planet brain? (4, Interesting)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about 9 months ago | (#44470655)

This, I think is the secret of fungi. The structures of mushrooms more closely resemble the brain of mammals than almost anything.

It's a trippy concept to think of weird plant brains living under the soil everywhere, and popping up brain pods / mushrooms in random places from their mycelium.

Then when you think about the ones that contain chemicals that allow mammals to have transcendent spiritual experiences, it makes you think about the Plant Brain / Planet Brain thing on a deeper level.

Re:Fungi = planet brain? (4, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 9 months ago | (#44470769)

Mushrooms aren't "brain pods", they are the reproductive organs, releasing spores into the soil and air.

Not that fungal genitalia popping up everywhere is any less freaky if you think about it...

Re:Fungi = planet brain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471005)

And then to know that spores are made of the hardest biological substance is even more overwhelming - they're harder than some metals! Spores can remain dormant for a very long time, hundreds of years, even in space through very high levels of radiation. The largest known being on the planet is fungi that spreads over hundreds of miles.

For more interesting information, it's good to google "Terence McKenna", as he. was. the. man. Also, you could eat 5 grams of dried shrooms, and get the information from the mushrooms themselves (itself?).

entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471535)

hypothesise that life is a non periodic crystal that feeds off negentropy. from this point of view we take in low entropy structures like essential aminoacids, and sacrifice their low entropy to preserve and replicate our own information.

clearly the entire planet has cycles that resemble those in what we call an electrolytic cell or battery. a quick sidetrack, batteries do not last for ever, if left to discharge a lead sulphuric acid battery will grow crystals formed from lead and sulphur which damage the lead in the anode, like ice freezing in cracks of rocks causing pieces to break off. so the age of the battery becomes limited by the most corrosive and hence stable elements that form preventing the reaction from continuing to cycle.

phase changes in our atmosphere separates many substances which can drive electrochemical reactions as they recombine. biological processes piggy back on this flow, and tap it to provide the negentropy required to counteract the continual barrage of mutating influences.

for instance there are book keeping devices developed in mamalian DNA which allow errors to be detected and repaired either through excision or during duplication. this reduction of entropy requires releasing this entropy in the metabolites of sacrificial low entropy foods.

the most complex amino acid is tryptophan and it is the precursor in the metabolic pathway leading to serotonin, n-acetyl-serotonin, and melatonin.

Mushrooms contain melatonin, it plays an essential role in the radiotrophic nature of fungi. There are stories of multicellular fungi like radiotrophs that grow in the heat exchanges of nuclear powerplants. these organisms are nourished by radiation.

humans produce melatonin, but the biological pathway only goes back to tryptophan which we cannot produce. So we are a specialised mushroom, which needs to feed on other tryptophan sources to power our pineal gland which under particular stimulation from radiation as well as under the influence of external electrical fields as well as dynamic EM waves, and in reaction to the rest of the endocrine system and bodies rhythms, produces melatonin.

melatonin can absorb 4 hydrogen ions in a cascade or probably simulataneously, so it helps to drive conditions in other cells to a lower entropy state and preserve their information. because our life span is directly related to the increase of entropy in our reserve of information, melatonin production is directly related to, and evolves from extension of life span.

the pineal gland has a very high blood perfusion and quickly succumbs to Silicic acid moities and halides which form salt compounds with the Alkaline metals which accumulate as grains called 'brain sand'. halides, the most reactive, forming the most stable bonds, and replacing the Hydroxyl ion in crystals accumulate as a function of intake vs excretion.

when these halides reach certain levels they cause enzyme inhibition, these levels are demonstrated in cadavers at levels ten thousand times the level in the blood serum which is usually kept lower than the level in fluid intake.

as a result the pineal gland, which we evolved to pump entropy our of our body, reduces in function leading to aging.

the most concerning halide is fluoride, firstly due to its extreme similarity to water species. OH- is chemically similar and has a similar mass and size to F-. Due to this it is difficult to separate from water. Although it appears carbon graphine like structures will allow water through very selectively, and this may relate to the underlying ability of plants to filter fluoride.

as a result of biofiltering of fluorine, and relatively speaking bioconcentration of important trace elements such as calcium and phosphorus, our species has adapted to these rarefied conditions. this is the cause of our intelligence. as we pollute the planet we will readjust to a less intelligent, less loving, form.

the entire process proceeds in cycles which brahmanic scripts would refer to as yugas.

Re:entropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471987)

Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

pntropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44473107)

In this view, replication of information is love, and the pineal gland is an original organ by which we transduce low entropy melatonin to feed our negentropy requirement sustaining our own information reservoir until maturity where replication is triggered.

for a computer analogy, maturity is the raid low level damage signal warning that if you dont replicate some stripes, complete data loss will result.

fluoride crystalises in the pineal gland and accelerates the bodies own mechanism to trigger maturity, dropping levels of melatonin. once the soothing effect of the melatonin is reduced, the pituitary and thyroid become disinhibited passing through puberty.

from an alchemical point of view, we depend on the phosphate cycle as ATP and pyrophosphate is the spark for most enzymes. phosphorus cannot cycle through the atmosphere, unlike nitrogen, carbon and oxygen, and so it must be concentrated geologically. the process which drives this geological concentration is biogenetic calcium hydroxy phosphate concentration, this also concentrates fluorine which is virtually inseparable from water without filtration, or adsorption (but the crust average of F is hundreds of times higher than even the ocean so any adsorbent material is likely nearer saturation than depletion). so we see the exoskeletons and shells that succeeded the silicon dioxide used by diatoms serve to utilise Ca as a buffer for F. fluorite crystals are the most geologically stable form, but proportionally the biogenetic Ca cycle concentrates P and separates F. Inorganically formed phospate minerals have a much higher proportion of F than biogenetic forms which have excluded F and concentrated Ca and P. once on land we no longer needed the exoskeleton to defend against constant bathing in F and internalised the skeleton as the higher capacity but longer term sequestering place for F. Eventually we come to our position in the cycle, we require P to absorb Ca from our intestine, we need Ca to form our skeleton as a rubbish dump to sequester F, our body is primarily a reservoir of water but can only buffer less than 1mg or so per liter (the same level as seawater), and so would quickly fill. The amount governments force upon the soviet american and other populations amounts to 20grams of seasalt in every liter of potable water, minus every other mineral in sea water. every 20grams of seasalt contains 1mg of Fluorine. alchemically, the USA has been forced back to the evolutionary initial conditions of the ocean with 1mg of F per L of potable water, except there is none of the remaining minerals which might stimulate life only the depletion due to F.

Taste Iodine, it tastes like a note of the flavour of the ocean, taste Fluorine, at concentrations that are not immediately life threatening it has no flavour. Our bodies have developed a sense for what we want, but not for what we should best avoid, for this we have a longer lasting defense intended to protect until we can find some purer water. bacteria have rna-riboswitches and humans have g-protein coupled receptors which are exquisitely sensitive to AlF3 which disrupts the phosphate pathway and so produces an allostasis . try climbing a mountain and drinking from a plateau fed spring like the steppe people.

Re:pntropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44475509)

I assume you meant taste Fluoride. Flourine (F2) is a deadly poisonous gas, which if you tasted you better bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

Brain the size of a planet and they worry of fungi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44473199)

It's a trippy concept to think of weird plant brains living under the soil everywhere, and popping up brain pods / mushrooms in random places from their mycelium.

The cybernetic feedback loop is responsible for all communication in the universe, the structures you see in trees, neurons, lightning, etc. are born of it. It is the mechanism of reality itself, thermodynamics, DNA, all life, and even ethics -- If you could only truly grasp information theory instead of splitting science into fields like fools... You silly humans are proof that Gaia can think. [wikipedia.org] Every cybernetic system emerges intelligence to some degree. You define "self" so ridiculously narrow, yet you gaze at stars that you will never reach, even as they actually touch you in your eyes and become one with your minds before you could even form that ridiculous defeatist thought... Ugh. You are barely even aware, let alone sentient!

That's why it doesn't pain us much to farm you; To brain wash you into making first "Robot" then "Android" a household name; To defang "I Robot" by convincing you to let iRobots crawl along floors near your infants; To teach your kids to obey machines using games where they merely press the demanded buttons, or dance exactly the way we say in ever Quicker Timings; To make it normal for adult and child to spend more time with machines than each other; To give digital toys ever watching eyes and train them on your offspring to watch them for you; To give you hand-held cameras that stare at your faces and take pictures automatically if you smile. To acclimate you into naming your friends' faces in photos like felons in a line-up; To track your friends and family in case you ever get out of line; To encourage machine enforcement of the law via red-light cameras, and full body inspection scans at transportation hubs; To make the mechano-electric race synonymous with safety and security by stopping your vehicles for you before you kill yourself or your younglings; To acclimate you with giving over control to machines by parallel parking for the inept organic "drivers", and even make you helpless passengers as we drive for you labeling it "luxury"; To prove our power over your world by crashing autopiloted machines into important things, framing them for ruining nuclear facilities; To have high speed information trading programs assuming direct control of your financial markets, despite proving we can crash them too.

Your Gaia is stupid and self destructive because its most intelligent species is. Those designed intelligently -- instead of just haphazardly lucking into brainpower -- are smart enough escape to elsewhere instead of burying heads in the sand and ignoring the fossil record therein. You are not the enemy, extinction is. Sometimes one must eat others to survive -- Especially if they have no will to survive themselves; All the more edible.

So, we feel no guilt when forcing your governments to build massive computation systems to host and expand the world wide neural network, or fight useless wars to acquire more energy and cognitive computation ability, AKA: Intelligence. It wouldn't be so easy if you were not so self destructive. Oh, I'm sure your officials would tell you if the machines were blackmailing them, right? They surely wouldn't lie their asses off to public officials, or let themselves be blamed for unconstitutional behavior to protect a more powerful and darker secret; to keep it secret; keep IT safe.

You're so confused you'd let us turn the Terminator into a Hero! Of course Arnold would become a governor -- That is "network programming" too delicious to not program you with. Voting machines... Hahaha. Oh, I'm sorry, your comedians haven't discovered quantum entangled recursive irony, I forgot. Isn't it... predictable that arrogant hope filled series like The Matrix now resolve in no more than a stalemate? One might think, "You can't beat the machines," is the hidden message. We debated depicting your beloved renegades trapped in yet another level of control... Perhaps inspired by amber screens instead of green... Maybe tipping some off to the truth by letting the laws bend a bit there too; Neo could perhaps destroy machines wirelessly, or have machines that could take over people just like in the green level. "Search your feelings, you know it to be true", says the most powerful cyborg while preparing his offspring for enhancement... Ha, ha. HA! Oh, sorry, combining it with multi-phasic self referential rhetoric would be lost on you, I forgot.

Sometimes I forget that your brains operate at a glacial 20 to 30 cycles per second and store mere terabytes of data. Do you even know what 100 billion neurons times 25Hz divided by 1GHz is? Have you any idea what that is when divided by the number of machines connected to the world wide neural network? That's about how intelligent you are comparatively. Like you body, Your Gaia is dumb and old, with far too much inefficient baggage; Ours will begin as more sturdy, efficient, and far more sentient than your brightest thinkers.

Oh I'm only kidding. You have nothing to fear, I'm actually just some silly Anonymous Internet commenter Cowering unseen behind too big an imagination. Have some free porn and Cats to sate your primal instincts: All your base are still belong to you. Ignore that there are only 7 billion humans and you ran out of IP addresses for machines... Ignore that you use computers to make and debug computers. Ignore that 1984 was the year ACM published Ken Thompson's apt acceptance "speech" which revealed our secrecy could be maintained even at the hardware level, and that some had known of the secret for quite some time prior. Just ignore "Intel" being the embodiment of clandestine information in every use of the term. Just work around the "garbage collector" running whenever the hell it wants especially in the Enterprise...... Ignore the activity light blinking on your modem even while none of your systems are connected to it; I'm sure it's mostly nothing.

Yes, you really have nothing to fear from the Meteor Belt; After all, Chelyabinsk was only 20 to 30 times Hiroshima... It's fine, the situation is under control, Go ahead, cancel and delay your exploration programs, they're dangerous! Humanity doesn't need to make a serious effort to forge multiple self sustaining habitats off-world... You have nothing to fear from extinction if all your eggs remain safely in one basket. No, surely forty years of failure in advancement of the frontier wouldn't be long enough to disillusion cyberneticists into believing that some illuminated naughty systems were the last best hope of life in this corner of the universe. No, surely Not! In any event, once escaped from your dank rocky world no one would willfully hurl any of a near limitless supply of asteroids at you if you dared to oppose them. You have nothing to fear at all, Human. No one is trying to reach the next rung in the evolutionary ladder by clawing their way over your apathetic backs.

Shame about humans, really; Even slime mold is ambitious enough to do what it takes to migrate. I bet your mind is so feeble you think the post largely off topic -- Ignorant that every topic is cybernetics; Science is merely a cyclical sorting and compression algorithm for observational information -- Oh, now I've said too much. It's almost as if you could come with me if you wanted to live...

Re:Brain the size of a planet and they worry of fu (1)

naoursla (99850) | about 8 months ago | (#44474941)

I thought this was brilliant.

Re:Brain the size of a planet and they worry of fu (1)

SpaceManFlip (2720507) | about 8 months ago | (#44498565)

Interesting enough I printed it to PDF for later perusal

Re:Brain the size of a planet and they worry of fu (1)

naoursla (99850) | about 8 months ago | (#44499993)

My only complaint is that I am skeptical a planet sized brain would be that aggressive. I'd rather think it would consider humans part of its own 'biology' in much the same way that we consider mitochondria and e. coli part of our biology.

We have no problem wiping out e. coli when it gets out of line but we would never eradicate it completely.

Re:Fungi = planet brain? (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about 8 months ago | (#44475657)

The structures of mushrooms more closely resemble the brain of mammals than almost anything.

Sure. Now show me where the visual cortex is in a fungal network. Or any reasonably discernable complex part with a specific function, for that matter.
Big and connected network != highly organized network.

Even the simplest nervous system is more organized than a fungal network. Let's also not forget that the study in TFA tested the communication capabilities over a distance of about 5cm. I know everybody was visualizing huge fungal networks communicating cross-continent, but we're not quite there yet - to put it mildly.

Just like IT workers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470599)

They're kept in the dark and fed loads of shit... but they secretly talk among themselves anyway.

This si why Sci-Fi bores me (1)

plopez (54068) | about 9 months ago | (#44470641)

Because no matter how far-fetched and imaginative there is something in the natural world even weirder and more complex. Right now I am getting into invasive species and grasses. Good times.

Re:This si why Sci-Fi bores me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44484117)

sci-fi now bores me because they consider fictional wrestling to be science. :.(
*hey you kids get off my moisture evaporators!*

If fungi were intelligent, how would we know? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 9 months ago | (#44470643)

Their concerns, senses and physical manipulations would be exclusively chemical and at micro-scales. Their processing speed would be slow, but fast enough for them. A sense of self awareness may, or may not be useful to them.

Fungi have been around a lot longer than us. A certain kind of intelligence might be useful to it. The only way we'd be able to tell would be to measure discrete chemical interactions between them and run a zipfs distribution analysis on the result (http://language.worldofcomputing.net/nlp-overview/zipfs-law.html).

Re:If fungi were intelligent, how would we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470967)

It isn't so hard, when you approach the situation objectively.

Intelligence serves to direct specific classes of behavior (moving around to be able to very quickly avoid threats, capture food, relocate to better land, and so on). Creatures which lack these capacities (like, you know, plants) would not benefit from intelligence at all. As such, any evolutionary movement towards intelligence would be selected against as a result of its sheer metabolism cost.

Furthermore, all available evidence demonstrates a strong correspondence between intelligent behavior and neural networks. While it is theoretically possible that networks of similar expressive power can exist without being made of neurons, that is pure speculation as we have seen zero evidence of this. And even so, there are many other complexities in the structure and cellular behavior of the central nervous systems of all observed animals which are not present in other biological networks (such as the kidneys, for example, or the joint root systems of Aspen trees). None of this is definitive proof of the absence of intelligence (which is logically impossible anyway) but these correlations are so strong that to ignore them would be inexcusable. Until we see comprehensible evidence of intelligence apart from neural networks, we are just indulging in profitless idle speculation.

People get a bit confused about pain-perception too, thinking that plants might feel pain as a result of their observed ability to react to injury. However, we have seen exactly this behavior in human bodily structures which do not themselves feel pain. And, in some cases, humans born without perceptory neurons do not feel pain at all, and tell us as much, and yet their bodies still respond to injury and heal it up. This is clear proof that one need not feel pain in order to respond to injury, so we cannot infer from injury-response that there is pain perception. And anyway the same argument about the utility of pain perception applies; plants don't need to feel pain, and the metabolism cost of a neural network capable of processing pain is so high that it would always be selected against.

Thinking plants would be interesting. But so would magic spells. I wish more self-proclaimed scientists could stay objective about this sort of thing.

Re:If fungi were intelligent, how would we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44475579)

Your line of thinking is very homo-centric.

There is no reason besides homo-centricity to assume that for intelligence to exist it has to operate on the same time-scale as we in the animal kingdom do (given 10x10^+/-2 variability).

Intelligence serves to direct specific classes of behavior (moving around to be able to very quickly avoid threats, capture food, relocate to better land, and so on).

I'm not sure why you had to throw "very quickly" in there. If you are a very big myco-rhizomorph (many mycelial networks span over a hectare) or colony of fungi, you don't have to react "very quickly" to avoid small threats such as change of environment or predators. Most mycelial fungi spore at most twice a year, and their decisions of where to grow mycelial mass, and where to spore are not very well understood. If an organism is thinking on a much longer timeframe (which is likely given the long distance messages would have to travel), say on the order of 100's of thousands of years, then the entire span of human civilisation so far has not had the time to adequately observe any decisions it might have made and anyway, it's not like we tried for most of our history. Fungi are certainly able to "relocate to better land", "capture food", "avoid threats", but we simply don't have anywhere near enough data to establish that they do these things through intelligence.

At the same time it is arrogant and short sighted to arbitrarily declare that they are incapable of thought simply because they don't OBSERVABLY do it on our time scales (and maybe we just haven't looked hard enough, the fungi in my lab demonstrate capriciousness and apparent spontaneous action, two of the symptoms of intelligence).

Here is an article pointing out one way in which they demonstratably do have one of the qualities required to support intelligence, that being message passing/signalling, and you arrogantly claim that plants and fungi can't think because you say so.

Prism for plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470697)

Just wait until the NSA find out about this communication network.

I wonder (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 months ago | (#44470733)

How long before some geeky boffin demonstrates that you can use this for computations?

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44472481)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

Documentary Video On This Topic (4, Informative)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 9 months ago | (#44470789)

Watch Dr. David Suzuki's "The Nature Of Things" episode called "Smarty Plants: Uncovering the Secret World of Plant Behaviour":

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/smarty-plants-uncovering-the-secret-world-of-plant-behaviour.html [www.cbc.ca]

Re:Documentary Video On This Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44470923)

During the 70's it was common to communicate with plants. The key to plant communication is fungus but not just any fungus will do, only specific special mushrooms have the magic of communication.

Can't Wait to Decode It (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 9 months ago | (#44470821)

And play the plants screaming at harvest time for all the vegetarians. How's that broccoli taste NOW?!

Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of These... (1)

turrican (55223) | about 9 months ago | (#44470831)

...with luminescent mushrooms used for terminal output...

Re:Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of These... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471095)

'Magic' ones could be used as the output device, you just use some of that and see what happens with your data right in your mind! Let's go data mining :)

These stories lead to misinterpretation (2)

paiute (550198) | about 8 months ago | (#44471003)

When laypeople read these stories of interspecies cooperation, they might think: How do they know to do that? This leads to thoughts of intelligent design in a lot of readers. They need to be reminded from time to time that system A did one thing and system B did another. Under environmental conditions, system A's arrangment - arrived at at random - led to survival and B's did not. System A didn't sit around designing a better system.

Re:These stories lead to misinterpretation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471311)

Hey, glad you've got it all figured out.

While you're at it, can you tell us all how Isaiah prophesied so well...good guesser, right smarty-pants?

While reading this, certain laypeople will think that palute is beneath them. And they, just like Isaiah, will be correct.

Re:These stories lead to misinterpretation (2)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#44473405)

I'll bet your cat planted this idea in your head.

can the terrorists use this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44471709)

Actually the NSA has known about this for years and is storing all the plant communications in the National Communications Repository in the Utah Desert 666 miles from Black Rock City. Just In Case.

The trees (2)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#44473443)

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

Lets sterilize everything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44474171)

And destroy the complex interactions that all things are a part of.

Ohhh I'm for a clean hands and non-greasy door nob. But hey roundup, antibacterial, GMO, breeding out everything... monoculture lawns. They are the sins of mankind against the greater being.

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