many-headed slime

(Physarum polycephalum)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

many-headed slime

NatureServe

not listed

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Widespread but not common

Season

Late summer and fall

Habitat/Hosts

Forests, woodlands, and suburbs on shaded rotting wood

 
Identification

Many-headed slime is a plasmodial slime mold. It has been reported in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. Most reports are from the eastern United States. All but a few plasmodial slime molds are invisible to the naked eye, are usually overlooked, and are little studied. Many-headed slime is an exception in all respects. It is most often found on a growth medium (agar) in laboratories, where it is frequently used in researching cell development, protoplasmic streaming, and nuclear behavior. In one interesting study it was “shown” that it “solved” a maze. In nature it is found on shaded rotting wood in forests, in woodlands, and even in treed suburbs. It is short lived, appearing after a soaking rain and disintegrating in just a few days.

Many-headed slime lives in rotting wood feeding on fungi and bacteria. In late summer and fall, after a soaking rain, it creeps to the surface of the substrate. It appears as a bright yellow, many-branched network of veins that creep along the surface. Protoplasm can be seen streaming within the veins. When exposed to light it produces spore-bearing structures (sporangia). The sporangia differ from other slime molds in having multiple heads, hence the common name many-headed slime.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 26, 29, 30.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

No Rank:

Amoebozoa

 

No Rank:

Mycetozoa

 

No Rank:

Myxogastria (plasmodial slime molds)

 

Order:

Physariida

 

Family:

Physaraceae

 

Genus:

Physarum

 
Synonyms

Didymium polycephalum

Lignydium polycephalum

Tilmadoche polycephala

 
Common
Names

many-headed slime

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Sporangium

A spore bearing structure, as of a fern, moss, or slime mold. Plural: sporangia.

       
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Hours after a soaking rain

  many-headed slime   many-headed slime
       
  many-headed slime   many-headed slime
       
  many-headed slime    
       

Two days later

  many-headed slime   many-headed slime
       
  many-headed slime   many-headed slime
       
  many-headed slime    
       
       

 

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Other Videos
 
  Mould Time-lapse - The Great British Year: Episode 4 Preview - BBC One
BBC
 
   
 
About

Oct 18, 2013

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Stream original BBC programmes FIRST on BBC iPlayer 👉 https://bbc.in/2J18jYJ

More about this programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dflmb A yellow slime mould moves across the forest floor, searching for its white fungus food source.

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  What Has No Brain, 720 Sexes, And the Ability to Self-Heal?!
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Dec 23, 2019

   
       
  How This Blob Solves Mazes | WIRED
WIRED
 
   
 
About

Oct 25, 2019

Physarum polycephalum is a single-celled, brainless organism that can make “decisions,” and solve mazes. Anne Pringle, who is a mycologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains everything you need to know about what these slime molds are and how they fit into our ecosystem.

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How This Blob Solves Mazes | WIRED

   
       

 

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Created: 8/15/2020

Last Updated:

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