slime-molds

Slime-molds (myxomycetes) love it here. These used to be lumped with fungi but deserved having their own kingdom. Their name is misleading as they have nothing to do with molds. Presently they are most commonly regarded as “social amoebas” and called the Dictyostelids.

These grow from spores as amoeba-like organisms which, if needed, can reversibly form a flagella. When two of them are compatible and hook up to mate, they fuse together into one organism. Rather than producing offspring, they continue to divide and grow together as a single *multi*nuclear organism with shared protoplasm. The form taken by this increasingly kinky relationship is called a plasmodium. Under certain conditions the plasmodium will crawl to the surface like some gigantic amoeba and form one of four types of fruiting bodies that eventually dries out to release new spores and start the cycle over. The organization and complexity of those fruiting bodies is mind boggling in the details as the images below will illustrate. Where the fruiting structures need connective or supportive parts some of the individuals sacrifice themself to become nonreproducing structural components in order to enable the reproduction of the majority.
If slime molds experience adverse conditions they can harden into a protective structure called a sclerotia. I’m just learning about these things despite being around them here and in Texas before that. I’m not 100% certain what I am looking at in some cases, so my apologies in advance for an abundance of question marks, maybes and probably.

Slime mold mostly eats bacteria. It might be debated just how conscious or intelligent they really are but the slime molds have been shown to be able to navigate mazes, including retracting their growth after exploring an unproductive path, and have been demonstrated to be able to successfully operate the controls of robotic devices — given some *very* rudimentary objectives. They have even been suggested to be of value for planning the most efficient design of major roadsystems in urban areas. And while they would no doubt be a lot cheaper to employ than a human transportation system designer, I’d hedge my bets on how well that one would actually work out in reality.

There are several types of slime molds here that are not closely related to each other.

This first pair of images is from a few years ago. These pink balls show up here from time to time. I had assumed for some years that they were a sort of a fungus. They are actually a common slime mold named Lycogala epidendrum. Their common name is Wolf’s milk slime.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Just a few days ago I found some more but did not have a camera with me. When I got back to them a couple of days later with a camera they had changed color from pink to brown.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

After getting some images home and seeing them in a larger view I was puzzled by some small red balls that I noticed towards their upper left.

92_WolfsMilkSlime_2015-april19-IMGP3162

I went back to try and get a better image with more details.

unclear-IMGP3282_20April2015

unclear-IMGP3282_20April2015

unclear-IMGP3288_20April2015

unclear-IMGP3288_20April2015

unclear-IMGP3282_20April2015

unclear-IMGP3282_20April2015

I don’t know what they are, at least not why they went red, but they more recently have turned pink so I assume it is part of this slime mold.

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

When trying to get better images I also noticed a cool insect of some sort. I have no idea what it is.

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Insect on Wolf's Milk Slime

Insect on Wolf’s Milk Slime

Those are all now starting to dry and open up.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

manually opened

Wolf's milk slime mold

manually opened

Wolf's milk slime mold

manually opened

Wolf's milk slime mold

manually opened

More images of Wolf’s milk slime

These chocolate-tube slime molds are another sort that lives here. Despite the name I can’t imagine anyone has actually tasted one in real life. The genus is Stemonitis but I do not know the species. It has a tube like sporangium that can reach 2 cm.
Apologies for the graininess of several but somehow I had the ISO speed too high.

a chocolate tube slime mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold (Stemonitis)

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

a chocolate-tube slime-mold

The most noticeable slime mold here is Fuligo septica; tragically it bears the rather sad common name of the “Dog Vomit slime mold”.

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

More images of Fuligo septica

A small slime mold making an appearance on 13 May 2015.

slime mold 13 may 2015

A slime mold

I do not know exactly what this is but it is a slime mold plasmodium.

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

a slime mold plasmodium

Similarly with this plasmodium that is still streaming its way into becoming an aethalium. It looks very much like Fuligo septica but is a different color.

slime mold

slime mold

slime mold

slime mold

slime mold

slime mold

This is another  slime mold:

Leocarpus fragilis AKA insect egg  slime mold

The “insect egg slime mold” Leocarpus fragilis

Leocarpus fragilis AKA insect egg slime mold

Leocarpus fragilis

slime mold

Another slime mold

Another sort of something similar.

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Slime molds getting ready to sporulate

That same white slime mold getting ready to sporulate

Some sort of slime-mold’s aethelia.

a slime mold

a slime mold

a slime mold

a slime mold

a slime mold

a slime mold

A similar appearing slime mold.

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

A slime mold

This last set is an unknown I suspect might be associated with a slimemold or at least it reminds me of their sclerotia although it is not always rock hard so I really do not know. It lived here for several years (almost 4 years!) going back and forth, according to the weather, in between what felt like raw liver to the touch to being rock hard — and staying in the latter state until the next wet period.
I still don’t know what this is.

unknown

unknown

unknown

unknown

unknown

unknown

unknown

unknown

Even more slime molds

Yet another sort of slime mold. These are tiny.

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

slime-mold_15may2015_IMGP4523

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Yet another slime mold

Returning a day later:

Slime molds getting started on forming sporangiums

Slime molds getting started on forming sporangiums

Slime molds getting started on forming sporangiums

Slime molds getting started on forming sporangiums

Slime molds getting ready to sporulate

Slime molds getting ready to sporulate

Slime molds getting ready to sporulate

Slime molds getting ready to sporulate

 

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica; the “Dog Vomit slime mold”.

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

Fuligo septica

It is supposed to be edible and sometimes eaten in Mexico; said to be scrambled like eggs. It is certainly creamy inside when it is a plasmodium and surprisingly is just firm enough to pick up.

Fuligo septica

Interior of a Fuligo septica plasmodium

These are the drying aethelia/sporangia of that same species.

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

Interior of a Fuligo septica sporangium

After noticing some nice and fresh Fuligo septica plasmodia had crawled onto this log last summer, I’d mixed the plasmodia of several of them together in the palm of my hand intending to take the mess to the kitchen and check them out after a round in a frying pan with some butter. The smell was really strong and disgusting so, losing my appetite, I put them down on a stump.

Fuligo septica on a log

Fuligo septica on a log

Fuligo septica sporangium

Fuligo septica above forming a sporangium

Fuligo septica plasmodium

Fuligo septica plasmodium still soft and ice-creamy in texture

Fuligo septica plasmodium

closer view; Fuligo septica plasmodium

Fuligo septica plasmodium

Fuligo septica plasmodium closer

 

This is what was there hours later — they apparently did not like being mixed together as a wad in my hand. The second ‘battle’ image in this next sequence came from the LAIM site.

Fuligo septica plasmodia trying to separate

Fuligo septica plasmodia trying to separate

Fuligo septica plasmodia trying to separate

Fuligo septica plasmodia trying to separate

And the following day this hard material was all that was visible. I am guessing that material might be slime-mold sclerotia?

aftermath

aftermath

aftermath

aftermath

aftermath

aftermath

slime mold sclerotia

aftermath

slime mold sclerotia

aftermath

That was interesting and novel enough to cause me to try it again; this time using the plasmodia from just two slime molds.

As was the case the first time, I did not get a photograph of the starting point when the color was all a solid yellow.

slime war

The slime wars are beginning to get colorful

A while later:

slime war

They are trying.

15_slimemold_IMGP1830

And still later that same afternoon:

slime war

Outcome of that slime war

One more time. (I yet again did not have a camera with me for the starting point so I suppose perhaps this year I should attempt this with better thoughts about documentation? I doubt any slime molds will agree so I might not bother them.)

slime war

The slime war is showing colors

slime war

slime war

slime war

The slime war is ending

slime war

Closer

Not nearly as impressive as the first one but still fascinating.

 

Trying it with just one plasmodium gave different results although produced the same sclerotia-like end material.

a disturbed slime mold

a disturbed slime mold

a disturbed slime mold

a disturbed slime mold

a disturbed slime mold

a disturbed slime mold

35_IMG_1107_2014july23

a slime mold sclerotia

a slime mold sclerotia

 

I decided that I had no business tormenting slime molds or at least causing them to do something with their lives other than being productive as slime molds.

All of that did however give me some insight into the nature of some other oddities I had seen as also being asssociated with slime molds. As a result of that I now believe that both of these things may be sclerotia generated from Fuligo septica plasmodia during summertime? Notice there are two irregular flattish dark-red things towards the center and right back and at least five clumps of a raised and rounded brownishness towards the center and front?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia (interior)?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia? (interior)

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

maybe slime-mold sclerotia?

Purportedly if a person wants to raise slime molds, or keep them around as “pets”, the sclerotia is said to be a more reliable starting point than spores.

 

Lycogala epidendrum

These are the same species, Lycogala epidendrum AKA Wolf’s Milk Slime, sporulating on another log. These just crawled up to the surface within the last few days (May 2015).

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

Wolf's Milk Slime

Wolf’s Milk Slime

They started turning brown today.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

I decided to look inside of one.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

I believe that they are Wolf’s milk slime mold (Lycogala epidendrum).

This is how they ripen:

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

 

Same species; different log.

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Wolf’s milk slime mold

Wolf's milk slime mold

Inside of one of those balls