An international network of/for intelligent organisms
I am new to the collective and merely a mostly mycology, but very recently myxomycetes, hobbyist. I made a very light hobby for a long while of identifying mushrooms, but in the last six months I've started to try and dive a little deeper into things. That's how I discovered myxomycetes and slime molds - found my first M.vesparium while looking inexplicably closely at a random log and it piqued my interest. Now, I've read a VERY introductory book, - The Myxomycetes Handbook of Slime Molds - and went ahead and started a few random moist chambers with local tree bark.
Which leads me to my current quandary - having grown a slime mold I am woefully incapable of identifying. Here's the details. I apologize in advance, these photos are not great. I bought a decent, but introductory, dissecting microscope and have only a 3MP AMSCOPE microscope camera to take photos with. These are all stacks of numerous shots, but I just could not get this combination of scope and camera to produce more detail. I am determined, however, to get a great macro photo rig in the near future, cause some of the photos I see on here are amazing.
Anyway, the bark was from a Sycamore tree in New York City - just a street tree - and it was harvested three or so weeks ago. After a week or so it started to sprout a white fuzz, and I was immediately confused, as that did not meet the description for plasmodium I had expected. Today there are only a few areas of fuzz left, but the whole piece of wood was covered in this stuff.
Then when the fuzz mostly disappeared, I scanned the surface with a hand lens and saw that it had in fact sprouted a number of structures.
I just went through and took as detailed a series of photos as I could. Given the quality, I'm sad to say it took over four hours to get these results - but as a very first effort using a dissecting scope and stacking software, I'm not totally disappointed. Unfortunately, my little handbook provided no clarity in trying to identify these weird, blackberry things. I'm not even sure if they are fully matured slime molds, or some aborted version of a larger species.
Not all the specimens were stalked. If they were growing on the side of the piece of bark, they were stalked. However, there appeared to be non-stalked clumps of the blackberry like pods growing on the flatter surfaces as well.
While I was searching for these, I also caught sight of what I assume are infant versions of slime mold beetles. I include it here in support of the idea that these were mature specimens because I believe you can see the beetles inadvertently carrying around the small spore bearing structures on their rear ends as they - I suppose eat? - the white filament?!
Then I stuck these under my compound scope - which is ironically a truly introductory tool, under $150, and capable only of accurately judging general shapes, structures and measuring microscopic size. Color and minute structures are not available - and I know that may sink the ship as far as identification is concerned.
Time to be honest - I don't even know whether the things I measured above were the spores, or sacs holding more than one spore. I don't even understand whether they the same blackberry bits that can see in the less zoomed in shots above. I think I see capillitium in the above image, but I have no idea whether there are visible lime deposits, because the book I'm using is in black and white and primarily handdrawn images. The few microscopic photos are extremely blurry.
Long and short of it, I need help. Or even a hint :). But definitely I need to know where I can get a better, more comprehensive written resource to use in identifying these things as they grow. I have four more moist chambers coming along and now I'm concerned by how totally adrift I am.
Having said all that - I could not be happier to be a member of this group - and actually, the last several hours exploring this tiny piece of wood in insane detail have been some of the most exciting hours ever. Multiple times during this process I've stared agape at my computer screen amazed at some tiny, impossible thing I never could have guessed existed.
I hope this is of interest to folks - whether any answers await me - and look forward to any and all guidance. If I've left out pertinent information, just let me know. I'm sure I have - the only question is whether I am in possession of that information, or whether I myself am unable to procure it from my subject. If it's the former, I will provide it upon request, post haste. If it's the latter, I will try to get it next time.
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