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Quick background: I am a writer working on a fictional story having to do with slime mould. I have no background in microbiology or anything like this. I've just bought my own slime and am looking forward to learning more.
I've done some research and have largely been left dissatisfied with the answer to this particular question, which I humbly present to you, the more educated of the slime mould enthusiasts.
My question is: In a hypothetical situation where there is an unlimited and regular supply of nutrients can and will a mature slime mould plasmodium continue to exist and thrive forever? Or will it have a natural inclination to die and create more spores in spite of this?
I have seen slime mould be described in tabloid type contexts as 'nearly immortal'. As far as I can tell, reading deeper, this is not really true, or at least it is a misleading thing to say.
Curious what you all think and thank you very much in advance for any slime wisdom.
I grow mushrooms as well and if you keep those on the same nutrients for too long they do stop growing and keel over. Slimes don't seem to do that. I've kept sporulation defective slimes on the go for several months, what usually gets them in the end is yeast or bacterial infection. If you let one dry out completely and form a sclerotium, that can knock back the bugs a bit and it'll be ok when it's rehydrated.
'Normal' slimes after a couple if weeks or so do seem to get an urge to sporulate - it seems to take less and less stimulus to push them over into spore formation - not just light, some contaminants seem to do the trick though if you're diligent about light exposure they'll keep going, Again, drying them out makes them 'reset - arguably sclerotia of Carolina that's been in cultivation for 30 years are still the same individual as the original plasmodia isolated in the woods.
So they are kind of immortal - easy to kill but they can be kept indefinitely without any signs of 'aging' with a little effort
Thanks Ian, this is really helpful. Do you feel like this applies across slime subspecies? I am thinking the species in my story is Fuligo septica.
Also, I've read that keeping slime in liquid cultures is helpful for longevity and slimes grown this way are actually more prone to 'agelessness'. Curious if you have any experience with liquid cultures and what that was like for you.
Liquid culture takes some effort - they need constant agitation and the medium is very rich so needs sterility. I was wondering if stirring them in oat milk might do the job but I find oat culture too convenient.
I'm not sure if fuligo will form sclerotia but drying works for many - I've five species in the collection.
Thanks - I had the same thought with oat milk haha. Appreciate the insight.