An international network of/for intelligent organisms
I've been dabbling in the dark art of catching occult slime moulds.
There are loads of slime moulds out there waiting to be discovered but they're either dormant or just too small to be found even when you're looking for them. But if you give them a helping hand, you'd be amazed how common they are.
Moist chamber is an easy technique to snag yourself a genuine wild blob, anything you can keep damp and dark and put some stuff in will do the job. We set some up in the for fun ( our lab does not technically research slime moulds but they are long term pets and sources of amusement )
For the big stuff we used large plastic tubs, smaller bits go into honey tubs - we will wash and reuse these many times before recycling them.
Basic method - put wet tissue in tub, put outdoor stuff in them, wait and look occasionally. We found half rotted stuff gave us results - along with woodlice, mites and things both creepy and crawly.
Success! this one crawled over to a ball of wet tissue - normally I'd use a layer of tissue on the bottom, I've no idea why we this but it worked. This one got offered a couple of oats which it happily took so we saw that as a sign that it wanted to be friends with us.
One week later - starting from one colonised oat flake Mandy here ( Mandy Goes to Medschool - look it up :) )is now in three dishes - it's not fast growing - Mazie would be dinner plate sized. We try to get several dishes on the go as this things probably come with a shedload of contamination so backups are a good idea.
There's no way we can ID a slime in its plasmodial stage - we need the sporocarp - the fruiting body.
To get that I'm exposing it to light - clear topped tub on the windowsill, it's just wandering around looking for food at the moment but after a week I'm hoping it'll start to change. It doesn't smell like physarum - it doesn't seem to have a scent and the veins look a bit flatter.
I'll be setting up some time lapses soon - let's see it in action!
as someone who lives in essentially a desert i wondered if there was any way for me to look for native slimes out here - good to know i might just need to submerge drier material to get them to come out and play :) any particular places slimes tend to stick around during dry seasons? there are some lichen covered branches around here i thought might be fruitful
I'd look under and in things - the domestic ones retreat to the dampest spot on their paper as they dry out. Cracks & loose lumps of bark, spongy rotten wood, under lichen's probably good - and you'll get tardigrades as a consolation prize!
ah excellent, my brother loves tardigrades - has two plushes of them and has even tried to say our cat is like one... we like weird organisms in this family
there's a cheap portable microscope that's essentially just a bubble of plastic that might be good to pair with my foraging