many-headed slime

(Physarum polycephalum)

Conservation Status
many-headed slime
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

not listed

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Many-headed slime is a plasmodial slime mold. It has been reported in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. Most reports are from the eastern United States. All but a few plasmodial slime molds are invisible to the naked eye, are usually overlooked, and are little studied. Many-headed slime is an exception in all respects. It is most often found on a growth medium (agar) in laboratories, where it is frequently used in researching cell development, protoplasmic streaming, and nuclear behavior. In one interesting study it was “shown” that it “solved” a maze. In nature it is found on shaded rotting wood in forests, in woodlands, and even in treed suburbs. It is short lived, appearing after a soaking rain and disintegrating in just a few days.

Many-headed slime lives in rotting wood feeding on fungi and bacteria. In late summer and fall, after a soaking rain, it creeps to the surface of the substrate. It appears as a bright yellow, many-branched network of veins that creep along the surface. Protoplasm can be seen streaming within the veins. When exposed to light it produces spore-bearing structures (sporangia). The sporangia differ from other slime molds in having multiple heads, hence the common name many-headed slime.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat and Hosts
 
 

Forests, woodlands, and suburbs on shaded rotting wood

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Late summer and fall

 
     
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 26, 29, 30.

 
  8/15/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread but not common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Protozoa (protozoans)  
  Phylum Mycetozoa (slime molds)  
  Class Myxomycetes (true slime molds)  
  Order Physarales  
  Family Physaraceae  
 

Genus

Physarum  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Didymium polycephalum

Lignydium polycephalum

Tilmadoche polycephala

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

many-headed slime

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Sporangium

A spore bearing structure, as of a fern, moss, or slime mold. Plural: sporangia.

 
 
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Hours after a soaking rain ...

 
    many-headed slime   many-headed slime  
           
    many-headed slime   many-headed slime  
           
    many-headed slime      
           
 

... and two days later

 
    many-headed slime   many-headed slime  
           
    many-headed slime   many-headed slime  
           
    many-headed slime      
           

 

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Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Mould Time-lapse - The Great British Year: Episode 4 Preview - BBC One
BBC
 
   
 
About

Oct 18, 2013

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Stream original BBC programmes FIRST on BBC iPlayer 👉 https://bbc.in/2J18jYJ

More about this programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dflmb A yellow slime mould moves across the forest floor, searching for its white fungus food source.

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Caption author (English)

 
  What Has No Brain, 720 Sexes, And the Ability to Self-Heal?!
Seeker
 
   
 
About

Dec 23, 2019

 
  How This Blob Solves Mazes | WIRED
WIRED
 
   
 
About

Oct 25, 2019

Physarum polycephalum is a single-celled, brainless organism that can make “decisions,” and solve mazes. Anne Pringle, who is a mycologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains everything you need to know about what these slime molds are and how they fit into our ecosystem.

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How This Blob Solves Mazes | WIRED

 
       

 

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

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Created: 8/15/2020

Last Updated:

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