Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slime mold revisited, Discovery Park

Remember this, from Nov. 18?

It's a slime mold amoeba climbing a tree so it can produce spores. Here's what it looked like yesterday:

Fred Rhoades says it is likely Physarium polycephalum, a species that is easy to culture and as a result, widely studied. Among the discoveries about Physarium: it can navigate mazes and can provide the computing power for a light-avoiding robot.
It's impossible to say for sure, what it is, however, without having an expert examine the fruiting bodies closely -- possibly under a microscope.
In case you ever need to do this, here are Rhoades' instructions for sending slime mold fruiting bodies through the mail.
"The best way is in a tiny box that you put in an envelope. Take the fruiting body scrap removed on a small sliver of the bark that is on and glue it down in the bottom of a small matchbox or similar. Put a bit of cotton ball or some such in on top to stabilize it and slip the whole thing in an envelope, perhaps gluing the box down on a card to stabilize its position in the envelope. Any small, rigid container will work. The main thing is to protect the fruiting bodies from being crushed or shaken as they are very fragile."

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