FRANCIS CHEE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS CHEE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Timelapse footage of a slime mould moving across moist bark. Despite its name, a slime mould is not a fungus, instead being an amoeba-like protozoan. When food is abundant it exists as single cells like other amoebae, but when food is scarce the cells aggregate and form a large macroscopic body called a plasmodium, which contains many nuclei. This plasmodium is active, following chemical cues to find the bacteria and other micro-organisms on which it feeds. When it has exhausted its food supply it forms its reproductive stage, hardening into spore-bearing sporangia, which resemble fungi or moulds. The spores are dispersed by wind or insects, and can remain dormant for many years before developing into new single-celled amoeba. See clip K004 7122 for the slime mould forming sporangia.
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