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Merlin Sheldrake: How have fungi shaped the world? © Getty Images

Merlin Sheldrake: How have fungi shaped the world?

Published: 28th October, 2020 at 19:53
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Our lives have always been entangled with fungi, says biologist Merlin Sheldrake, and the future of this relationship is full of possibility.

The fungal kingdom is vast, and yet much of it remains unknown to us – it’s estimated that only about 6 per cent of all fungal species have, so far, been described.

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But if fungi are all around us, why do we only know the names of a few? We might use yeast in baking, mushrooms in our cooking, or have been treated with penicillin, but biologist Merlin Sheldrake says there is much more wonder to be found in understanding our fungal friends better.

His new book, Entangled Life, reveals the complexity of the fungal world. In it, he describes the fungal networks that connect trees and plants in something called the Wood Wide Web, and explains how fungi were crucial to the creation of the world we see around us today.

We spoke to Merlin about this strange and wondrous lifeform.

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This podcast was supported by brilliant.org, helping people build quantitative skills in maths, science, and computer science with fun and challenging interactive explorations.

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Authors

Amy BarrettEditorial Assistant, BBC Science Focus

Amy is the Editorial Assistant at BBC Science Focus. Her BA degree specialised in science publishing and she has been working as a journalist since graduating in 2018. In 2020, Amy was named Editorial Assistant of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors. She looks after all things books, culture and media. Her interests range from natural history and wildlife, to women in STEM and accessibility tech.

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