#SlimeLapseGallery - Episode 4

Written by Chris Reid on April 2, 2015

If you’ve ever watched a slime mold move, you have more patience (and spare time) than I do. If you prefer ‘real action’ over ‘real time’, then #SlimeLapseGallery is the place for you. Brought to you by the SwarmLab, see all the best timelapse videos of slime mold, from the web and from our lab.

Episode 4: The collective slug

The SwarmLab’s slime mold of choice is the acellular (or plasmodial) slime mold Physarum polycephalum. The ‘acellular’ indicates that this slime mold is a single cell, and the macroscopic creature you see is not composed of lots of tiny cells like a regular multicellular organism. There are other slime molds however that are called ‘cellular’ slime molds, the most famous of which is Dictyostelium discoideum. When conditions are right for sporulation, swarms of tiny D. discoideum cells come together to form a ‘slug’, which undulates it’s way to an exposed area to maximize spore dispersion. The cells maintain their individual cell membranes and never fuse, meaning the slug moves by the collective coordination of many unrelated individual cells. Once in position, the slug transforms itself into a base, a stalk and a sporulating cap, with only the cells in the cap gaining the benefit of reproduction. Princeton Emeritus Professor John Bonner championed the study of cellular slime mold to increase our understanding of evolution and development, and is the creator of the beautiful time-lapse videos featured in today’s #SlimeLapseGallery.

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