The Mushroom Moment

Feb 27, 2024

“Zombie-ant fungi do not reanimate ant corpses.”
It’s the answer to a question that Professor David Hibbett likely thought he’d never be asked. But during the Q&A session hosted and filmed by WIRED magazine inside a Manhattan studio, the mycologist took it in stride, reassuring the world that the parasitic fungus that infects and kills other organisms does not, in fact, create an army of living-dead insects.

Sitting in front of a white backdrop and behind a tabletop bearing varieties of mushrooms, Hibbett fielded a series of fungi-related queries pulled from Twitter (now known as X). He identified the world’s largest known fungus (the 35-foot-long Phellinus ellipsoidius that is found in China), described his personal choice for the all-time creepiest mushroom (the appropriately named Bleeding Tooth Mushroom [Hydnellum peckii], which secretes blood-red droplets), and cleared up any confusion about whether there is such a thing as a carnivorous mushroom (indeed there is).

He also championed fungi as potential allies in the fight against environmental pollutants; revealed the hidden ways in which mushrooms communicate with each other; and extolled the joys of foraging.

The subject matter may have seemed humble, but the response to the video was not. Since it was posted on May 2, 2023, the WIRED piece has earned more than a million views and over 2,600 comments, many of them urging Hibbett to start his own mushroom-themed YouTube channel. “Everybody should be obsessed with mushrooms,” Hibbett gently noted at the conclusion of the video.

Please read the full article here.

Source: Clark University

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