Several years ago (well, actually many) I won a photography contest and one of the judges congratulated me on my appreciation of things slimy. I think the image was of a frog and well…they aren’t slimy but I wasn’t going to argue the point.
Slime molds (Myxomycota) are plasmodial bodies of single cells all acting as one organism….kind of an altruistic team. I like them and, although I’ve only found a few so far, I enjoy their interesting biology and many different forms. They are not fungi but often can be found in a mushroom field guide.
Coral Slime (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa)
Kind of pretty for slime, eh? I had no idea what they were when I found them on a rotting log in Wendell State Forest while toddling along with a couple of entomologists looking for bugs to photograph.
Growing on the same log was Stemonitis axifera (no common name that I can find) and another cool looking slime mold.
And probably the one that most folks have seen is the Dog Vomit slime (Fuligo septica).
What I found most interesting, up until now, was the idea that slime molds can actually move from one location to another seeking out food. Not by sending spores through the air (although they do) but by actually moving along the soil. The reason I said “up until now” is described in the following Ted talk as an actual semblance of intelligence exhibited by slimes. I don’t expect to hold a conversation with one anytime soon…those funny mushrooms are way way in my past…but apparently they are able to make decisions and find their way to food sources in very indirect paths when facing obstacles. If you have a spare 12 minutes or so, this is fascinating….to me and I hope to at least some of you too.,
In finishing up, I hope this topic was not too gross for anyone. If it was and you just fast forwarded to this last paragraph, I understand.