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Fungal behaviour: a new frontier in behavioural ecology

Aleklett, Kristin and Boddy, Lynne ORCID: 2021. Fungal behaviour: a new frontier in behavioural ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 36 (9) , pp. 787-796. 10.1016/j.tree.2021.05.006a

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While there is increasing acceptance that non-neural organisms such as plants, slime moulds, and bacteria can perform behaviours, the vast kingdom of fungi is usually forgotten. We argue that fungi can also be studied through the theoretical framework of behavioural ecology. This would benefit both fungal biologists – yielding a better understanding of the lives of fungi – and behavioural ecologists, providing access to model organisms that can help to explain the evolution of primary senses and potentially discover behaviours new to science. Fungi have senses analogous to those of other organisms, they exhibit behaviour, and they have memory. This suggests a multitude of questions and new paths that could be taken to broaden our understanding of this forgotten and underestimated branch in the tree of life. As human beings, behaviours make up our everyday lives. What we do from the moment we wake up to the moment we go back to sleep at night can all be classified and studied through the concepts of behavioural ecology. The same applies to all vertebrates and, to some extent, invertebrates. Fungi are, in most people’s eyes perhaps, the eukaryotic multicellular organisms with which we humans share the least commonalities. However, they still express behaviours, and we argue that we could obtain a better understanding of their lives – although they are very different from ours – through the lens of behavioural ecology. Moreover, insights from fungal behaviour may drive a better understanding of behavioural ecology in general.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0)
Publisher: Cell Press
ISSN: 0169-5347
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 22 May 2021
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 21:24

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