Jawbreaker OTD. Myxomycetophagy: drawing nutrition, as in some beetles, from slime molds, both their spores and plasmodia. In Novozhilov et al., “Ecology and Distribution of Myxomycetes,” in Stephenson and Rojas, Myxomycetes (2017).
Something to skim during my long twice-daily train rides: Arthur Lister’s Monograph of the Mycetozoa (2/e, 1911), digitized and available through the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
Dictyostelium slime molds from around the world will compete in the first ever Dicty World Race! Watch the time-lapse videos of cells navigating a maze embedded in a microfluidic device (nice Pac-Man obstacle) later this week, on 16 May.
Hooray! It’s slime mold day at BPOTD!
Via Leta, Carl Zimmer reviews a lot of recent research on slime molds (myxomycetes). Eye-popping photographs by Steven L. Stephenson, especially the shiny black knobby bundles of Metatrichia vesparia.
xkcd understands myxomycetes.
The Economist summarizes recent publications by Adamatzky and Jones and Atsushi Tero that use Physarum polycephalum, a species of myxomycetes (a/k/a slime mold, probably my favorite simple organisms), to model the tradeoffs between efficiency and redundancy in designing macro networks, like rail lines or motorways.
Of course, neither Dr Tero nor Dr Adamatzky is suggesting that rail and road networks should be designed by slime moulds. What they are proposing is that good and complex solutions can emerge from simple rules, and that this principle might be applied elsewhere.
We went out for a short morning to work on the nest boxes at the Park. Since we forgot to bring a drill so that we could mount new boxes, all we accomplished was tearing down box 60. This wasn’t too hard to do, even without tools, because 60 was pretty ramshackle.
Paul spotted a couple of tail-bobbing Palm Warblers (Dedroica palmarum) and there were some lingering phoebes and swallows over the wetland. Or should we say, soon-not-to-be-wetland: lots of grassy vegetation and small willows and maples are springing up along the boardwalk.
I found several silvery masses of a slime mold in a rotting tree down along Barnyard Run. The lowest such mass (in the image) was a few feet over my head, about the size of my fist.