The key to the human race’s future may be right beneath our feet. It sounds bizarre, but fungi better known as mushrooms can help solve many of society’s greatest challenges, from cleaning up the environment and living more sustainability to colonizing other planets.
Threaded into nearly every square inch of the ground are tiny, biological wires called mycelia. They’re the raw, exposed nervous system of the mushrooms that hold the planet together. When your feet press against the ground, or when it rains, or when a tree falls over, the fungal network responds, streaming chemical data in all directions and altering its growth and behavior accordingly. Crusading mycologist Paul Stamets calls mycelia the “neurological network of nature,” and a “biomolecular superhighway.” He likens this fungal network to the human nervous system and the structure of the Universe itself.