Just when moral vegetarians thought their meal of choice wasn't sentient, it turns out that plants can totally talk to each other. Even weirder, they communicate through underground fungi. So mushrooms aren't cool to eat, either. Sorry.
The BBC reports that an underground network of mycorrhizae fungi often connect plants to each other, allowing information to be transmitted between them. This is from a recent study that set up bean plants to be attacked by aphids. Most plants are able to defend themselves from aphids by releasing chemicals that "both repel the aphids and attract parasitic wasps that are aphids' natural predators," because nature is just amazing like that. Scientists found that plants that were connected underground through fungi began to release those chemicals when a neighboring plant was set upon by aphids. Plants that were not connected did not. Therefore, they concluded, the plants must have warned each other through the fungi.
Also, the scientists put bags on all of the plants to prevent them from communicating with each other through the air because it turns out that plants can do that, too.
So think about that next time you turn down a chicken sandwich for a portobello burger with a side salad.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.