Slime Mould (Physarum polycephalum)

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Price: $29 + GST
Model Number: PP/SM


PHYSARUM POLYCEPHALUM (SLIME MOULD)

The Fungus That Walks!

Despite their somewhat unattractive name, slime moulds are a fantastic and fascinating life form. They are also an ideal organism for students to use in the laboratory for experimental investigation. 

Physarum and other slime moulds are a type of fungus, and in nature are found in dark, moist environments, growing on decaying logs or amongst rotting vegetation. For most of their life, they exist in a plasmodial stage in which they are a mass of cytoplasm (requiring high humidity and moisture), at which time they display animal-like characteristics- crawling over a surface and engulfing food like an amoeba, then digesting it in food vacuoles. Under optimum conditions, this protoplasmic mass can spread for 0.1- 0.2 square metres.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Physarum is an excellent teaching/ learning tool- it is inexpensive and easy to grow and maintain, and the manipulative skills required by students are relatively straightforward. It allows students a unique chance to work with living protoplasm. Students of all ages enjoy seeing the Physarum grow as they feed it, but it can also provide a sound basis for recording simple scientific observations, and undertaking experimental investigations. Some suggestions are:

Observe cytoplasmic streaming (one of its most dramatic and beautiful behaviours) using a microscope at low magnification and focusing on the bright yellow filaments.

Record the rate of advancement of the growing edge of the Physarum in response to various stimuli.

Study the Physarum's response to different foods (carbohydrates) such as breakfast cereals or fruit.

Investigate the environmental effects of varying conditions such as temperature, pH, osmotic pressure and light.

The culture comes with a container of food and a spare culture plate.