14 Oct

Slime Molds

Slime molds are Eukaryotic, heterotrophic microorganisms that exist in cool, shady, and moist areas.  They are often found on decaying logs, dead leaves, and other organic material.  They ingest their food similar to an amoeba by phagocytosis.  The vegetative cells lack cell walls however when fruiting bodies are formed, cell walls are present in these structures.  Slime molds are in the division Gymnomycota in the Kingdom Myceteae.  Slime molds have characteristics similar to protozoans and fungi and can be classified as either.  The life cycle of the genus Physarum starts with the plasmodium.  This is a multinucleate structure and moves over its food by flowing its cytoplasm similar to the way in which an amoeba moves.  Most species feed on bacteria and other small organisms.  The organism will change from its plasmoidal stage and form a sclerotia.  The sclerotia is a hardened structure that forms when environmental conditions are not favorable.  Sporangia can form under unfavorable conditions as well and they are fruiting structures.  Sporangia can then give rise to pear shaped swarm cells.