An international network of/for intelligent organisms
I'm glad to have found this forum, because I'm really interested in slime molds and there are not many books about them and hardly any in Polish. Moreover I haven't found really useful and practical informations about colecting and culturing slime molds at home. So I have tried with no success so far - I have only managed to set up a moisture chambers and observe some tiny fruiting bodies.
(Let's make it easily visible) I would be very grateful for a Physarum.
And there come justifications:
At first I was trying to isolate a plasmodium on my own but it is harder than I anticipated. Also, I'm not sure if every slime mold can grow as big and easy to observe as Physarum Polycephalum. I my moisture chambers I've only managed to spot some small fruting bodies (through stereo mikroscope, hardly visible with eyes) and I'm not sure whether even after successful isolation (which I haven't achieved yet) could I work on it.
Why do I want to do some observations on a slime mold? - I thought it is a good subject to do a work about for biology contest. I want to find out it's food preferences or maybe try ti determine it's demand for specific nutrients, or tolerance for some chemical substances (salt, ethanol etc.) Simply, I would like to see it on my own.
But while working with such things - safety first. Every book says that slime molds are cosmopolitan. But what does it mean exacly? Are slime mould species living on all lands between certain parallels, all over the world or on specific continents? My question is: Does Physarum live all over the Europ? I would rather not be guilty of implementing invasive species. Do I have to take any precautions?
I would like to ask some more questions if you don't mind. Is there any atlas like "Myxomycetes of Europe" available on-line? Is there any way of transfering slime molds from moisture chamber on agar without working with spores (it's pretty complex and spores are hard to acquire from small fruiting bodies)? And my last question - How can one differentiate certain species, even small?
I would be very grateful for any answers and I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to work with Physarum.
I wish all of you a good day,
(Bio)Safety first. Yes as far as I know there are species of Physarum pretty much everywhere ( but not necessarily polycephalum ) but we should still be extremely careful of escapes. The strains in circulation are certainly not from your local area and they could cause havoc if they got out - I'd say the probability was low ( they're a class 1 organism in the formal safety classification ) but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take it seriously.
I dump all my waste ( I have a lot ) in a bucket and give it a shot of bleach, salt, disinfectant, detegent or ethanol ( Whatever's to hand ) then leave it at least overnight before chucking, Spores get soaked in bleach or alcohol overnight.
Distribution - no one's sure about Antarctica ( I'm willing to go looking if you're paying ) but slime moulds crop up everywhere else - one survey said 75% of houseplants have them, 10% of banana skins ( honestly you gotta wonder what labs were doing in the 70's ). I don't think there are any marine species but there are many aquatic ones and a few species that colonise snow.
Moist chamber - You'll get a lot of protostelids - mini slimes that make small numbers of fruiting bodies and the slimes you get might not be easy to cultivate. I got luck with 'Mandy' - probably a badhamia species in that it eats oats and gets to a good size, I got a second white slime that puts up with oats but never gets very large. I think I read a paper that showed only 10% of myxomycetes have been successfully cultured - but keep trying and you'll get one,
Books - yes there are a couple of affordable books, I've got Myxomycetes:A hand book of Slime moulds ( Stephenson ) - drawings rather than photos but it's ok.
I've just ordered a copy of Myxomycetes of Britain and Europe - out of print and £35 quid but I hope it's worthwhile.
There is a superb two volume atlas out there ( can't recall the title ) but it's £350 per volume! plus vol 1 is the text and vol 2 is the photos, I tried to track down a pirate copy via lib gen ( I have no problem doing that for a £700 book ) but it's not available.