How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures
The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.
Neither plant nor animal, they are found throughout the earth, the air and our bodies. They can be microscopic, yet also account for the largest organisms ever recorded. They enabled the first life on land, can survive unprotected in space and thrive amidst nuclear radiation. In fact, nearly all life relies in some way on fungi.
These endlessly surprising organisms have no brain but can solve problems and manipulate animal behaviour with devastating precision. In giving us bread, alcohol and life-saving medicines, fungi have shaped human history, and their psychedelic properties have recently been shown to alleviate a number of mental illnesses. Their ability to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in break-through technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘Wood Wide Web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems. Yet over ninety percent of their species remain undocumented.
Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into a spectacular and neglected world, and shows that fungi provide a key to understanding both the planet on which we live, and life itself.
About the Author
Merlin Sheldrake is a fungal biologist and a writer. He received a PhD in Tropical Ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama, based at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In 2016, he was profiled in the New Yorker by Robert Macfarlane for an article about the Wood Wide Web. He is a musician and keen fermenter. Entangled Life is his first book.