Slime mould

From E-Flora BC we have this fascinating article on slime mould.

In an environment that is varying hues of brown and green, hot pink or coral red is hard to miss, so even the most preoccupied of hikers will stop agog having come across a slime mold, one of nature’s most mysterious creations.

The typical first reaction is to mutter, "What is this stuff?" The typical second reaction is to poke it with a stick.

Slime moulds are mysterious. They have been considered animals, protozoans, fungi or space aliens. Were they larger, they would come to life in cheesy 1950’s sci-fi flicks.

They are usually classified within a group called the Myxomycetes. (Note that reading this column will greatly increase Scrabble scores.)

Slime moulds have several life stages. Perhaps the most interesting is the plasmodium, which is basically a single enormous cell with hundreds of nuclei.

Experiments have shown it can find its way through mazes to find food. More amazing, if chopped into pieces that are then returned to a previous maze, the plasmodial bits will reassemble and start to move, avoiding dead ends and heading directly back to the food again. Intelligent slime? [continue]

In other news, New Scientist reports of a Robot moved by a slime mould’s fears.

A bright yellow slime mould that can grow to several metres in diameter has been put in charge of a scrabbling, six-legged robot.

The Physarum polycephalum slime, which naturally shies away from light, controls the robot’s movement so that it too keeps out of light and seeks out dark places in which to hide itself. [continue]

Pretty weird.