Mold’s Slime Helps it Move

by | 21st October 2012



The yellow slime mold Physarum polycephalum exploring a petri dish. Slime deposits to the left of the image tell the slime mold where it has previously explored. Photo by: Audrey Dussutour.

How do you move around without a brain? Well, if you’re the brainless slime mold named Physarum polycephalum (fis-ah-rum poly-cef-ah-lum), the answer is simple: slime. A new from the University of Sydney, in Australia found that Physarum polycephalum uses its slime to make sure it doesn’t end up going in circles in search of food.

  • Physarum polycephalum is a shade-loving mold can often be found in logs or in the leaf litter.
  • It eats microbes (microscopic bacteria) for food. The mold doesn’t like light and salt. But since it doesn’t have a brain, like animals, scientists always wondered how it seemed to know where it was going.
  • Scientists say that the mold seems to be able to sense its own slime when it touches it, and therefore can recognize and stay away from areas it has already explored. They think that the mold uses its slime as a sign to say “I’ve already been here! No more food.”
  • The researchers think animals might have evolved from molds like these. They think that the mold’s ability to sense with it has been was the “first step” toward memory, like ours.

Want to learn more?  Read the full story here: Brainless slime mold uses slimy memory to navigate










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