Thursday, 6 May 2010

Enviroments for a slime mold

Slime molds are highly conspicuous organisms that can “magically” appear overnight on mulch, plants, and turf. How do they get there so fast? Its made people confused for years. Slime molds are not fungi, although often mistaken to be. They are infact in the class of Myxomycetes, which is the group slime molds fit into with around 850 species known worldwide. They are found on wood chip mulches, lawns, garden beds, on herbaceous and woody ornamental plants, and even creeping up foundation walls of buildings and other structures. In lawns, the presence of a slime mold gives the grass a bluish-gray to purple-brown appearance from a distance. These areas can be patchy and can be as large as several feet in diameter. Their life cycle is similar to those of a fungi. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they were classified as fungi for many years. Periods of moderate temperature create perfect enviroments for the slime molds to grow, especially when conditions are moist. The spores will germinate and release small cells where two of these haploid cells will fuse together to create a shapeless mulch called a plasmodium. Plasmodia can be either colorless, gray, cream, bright yellow, or orange in colour. As the plasmodia grows, or "creeps",  they can move several feet within 24 hours. When environmental conditions become drier and warmer, they are no longer at this stage of the slime mold. At this point, the slime mold undergoes obvious changes from a Plasmodium to what is known as a Sporangium. This is the looming stalk like object which once developed it is in during this stage that spores are formed and the cycle starts to repeat.

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