Entangled Life of Fungi: Author and Researcher Merlin Sheldrake Talks Fungal Ecology and Environment
Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and writer who has written a book about the vast world of fungi while pursuing a plant study involving fungi symbiosis. He shares with listeners The prehistoric and ongoing relationship between plants and fungi, The nature and variety of these multisystem symbioses, and The composition of the "wood wide web" that the ecology and environment of plant and fungal symbioses creates. Merlin Sheldrake has studied plant sciences, microbiology, ecology, and the history and philosophy of science. He has his Ph.D. in tropical ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama. He was awarded the position of research fellow of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute while pursuing his Ph.D. Merlin has just published the book Entangled Life, which describes how fungi affect our world. He shares many of these effects in this conversation, starting with his own fascination as a child for how natural objects transform. As he studied about decomposers and learned about symbiosis, plant study and research into plant and fungi relationships was a natural direction to pursue. He explains that fungi exists in plant roots and spread deep into soil but also live in plant leaves and stems as endocytes. In fact, there are no plants found without endocytes. Therefore, he says, fungi are a fundamental part of planthood, even more than roots and leaves, as fungi existed in symbiosis with plants even before roots evolved. He tells listeners more about this relationship, current studies on communication between plants, fungi, and other plants and the necessity of fungi for health soil. For more, find his book Entangled Life, which was just published, and see his website: merlinsheldrake.com.