Slime Molds

slime molds

What is a Slime Mold?

Slime moulds are a general name given for all unrelated eukaryotes, which are capable of living freely as single cells but can aggregate together to form multicellular reproductive structures.

Slime moulds were formerly classified as fungi but are no longer considered part of that kingdom. Although it is not related to one another, they are still sometimes grouped within the kingdom Protista. Altogether, there are more than 1000 species of slime mould present all over the world. These species usually feed on bacteria, fungi and other microbes usually present on any type of dead plant materials. Few species of the slime moulds are smaller than a few centimetres, while some may reach sizes of up to several square meters and weighs up to 25-30 grams.

Slime moulds are usually found on lawns, soil, near the forests, in tropical areas, on fruits, cluster of flowers, even in the leaf mould, in rain gutters, and also grow in air conditioners, near the blocked drains, etc.

Here is a small and simple experiment on how to grow a Slime mould.

Aim

To grow slime mould in different conditions.

Materials Required

  1. Scissors
  2. Dropper
  3. Petri Dish
  4. Colour pencil
  5. Distilled Water
  6. Paper Towel or tissues
  7. Samples of slime mould
  8. 2 small pie dishes or plates
  9. 2 small clear lids of a pie size
  10. One foot long Rubber tubing
  11. Nitrile or Rubber Hand gloves
  12. Uncooked rolled whole-grain oats
  13. Fruit or cereals – food for the slime mould
  14. A toxin – A nail paint remover or Vinegar.

Procedure

Set up the experiment:

  • Wear clean and sterilized hand gloves to avoid the contamination of the setup.
  • Prepare three sets of one-inch lengths of rubber tubes, and then cut down the length of the tubing so they are open circles.
  • As shown in the above diagram, fit the tube pieces around the bottom of the pie dish or plates.
  • Now carefully place the petri dish within the pie dish without disturbing the setup.
  • Cut out a circle from a paper towel larger than the diameter of the petri dish.
  • Use this paper towel to cover the top of the petri dish.
  • Before placing the paper towel, wet it thoroughly with distilled water.
  • Place the clear lid of the pie dish over the setup.

Growing the mould:

  • At first, moisten the paper towel thoroughly with distilled water.
  • Place a sample of slime mould on the paper towel and add a drop of water.
  • Keep the sample aside without disturbing.
  • Once the slime mould is rehydrated and moving around, place an uncooked oat in contact with it.
  • Remember to keep the dish covered whenever you are not feeding the mould.
  • Once the mould starts to grow larger, add more uncooked oats and watch it.
  • Always keep the paper towel moist.
  • Use dropper filled with distilled water to mist the paper towel
  • Record all your observations. Take pictures of the mould or make sketches to document the life of mould.
  • With the help of a colour pencil, make a note of any changes in the colour or size of a mould.

Experiment:

  • Perform different trials using different types of food to feed the moulds. Observe and make a note of which food helps the mould grow best.
  • Secondly, add a few small drops of toxins, like vinegar or nail polish remover and observe what happens with the slime mould.

Results

As per the observations, the slime mould grows and move around in search of nutrients and to avoid toxic substances.

Conclusions

Alike amoeba, the mould also moves around in search of nutrients required for it to grow larger.

In the whole experiment, we also observed that the slime mould prefers to live and grow in wet and cold environments such as near the water bodies, barks and branches of trees, etc.

Discover more about slime moulds, its features, and other related topics only @ BYJU’S Biology

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