An international network of/for intelligent organisms
I would like to ask for the collective's help regarding the preservation of slime mold. In particular, I am looking to create mazes for Physarum polycephalum to navigate and then eternalize its path, like an image, by casting some transparent material on top of it. Any ideas about how to do this would be most valuable. Would anyone here happen to have experience in the field?
Yes, this is what I thought. However, it would be great to find a way to preserve, or "freeze", its actual route – maybe coloring the black growth back to yellow afterwards?
Well you could fix it with glutaraldehyde, dehydrate with solvent then infiltrate with epoxy or acrylic resin but that's a hell of a lot of work and on such a large scale ( I normally do with with mm sized samples of things ) wouldn't be easy.
What about pouring a fast setting medium like dental alginate on top and using that to create a cast instead? I've been toying with the idea but never quite got round to it.
Thank you for these notes!
The first proposal does sound like a lot of work. At the same time, for this project, it would be great to have the actual slime mold there. Do you think that dehydration will be absolutely necessary and simply pouring resin on top of the slime mold won't work at all (leaving it rotting, as Davenwolf suggested)?
Creating a cast of the actual slime mold seems like a great plan as well. Did anyone here try something like this before?
The idea would be to infiltrate the plasmodium with resin not merely encase it - the fixative ( you could use formalin) basically sets all the proteins into a gel that can then be dehydrated in ethanol before resin is seeped in - the resin's don't mix with water. If you resin directly over the organism whilst it's still alive I'm willing to get bit would start moving around long before the resin actually set ( mine take 24h at 65C or a couple of days of UV irradiation ), even if you had a faster setting resin the stuff's still very squishy.
You might have more luck with a vacuum drier of the type we used to use for gels - sucking the material down onto a piece of filter paper under vac with a sheet of cellophane over the top.