MATT MEADOWS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MATT MEADOWS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pretzel slime mould (Hemitrichia serpula) on decaying wood. Slime moulds are not fungi, but a separate group with complex life cycles. They start as amoeba cells, which multiply quickly through mitosis. Unlike most organisms that use mitosis, only the nucleus divides and not the cell. This results in a new larger cell called a coenocyte that contains two nuclei. The coenocyte feeds on various micro-organisms and as it grows, the nuclei continue to divide. When food runs out, the slime mould migrates to the outer surface of the log where is transforms into fruiting bodies (sporangia). The cells become spores, which are released and dispersed by the wind.
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