How Do Slime Molds Move?

Slime molds move through cytoplasmic streaming where protein-rich material called micro-filaments, provide the means of locomotion and control mechanism that enables these organisms to move in a certain direction. Slime molds have been observed to move at speeds of 0.04 of an inch per hour.

Slime molds were previously categorized under kingdom fungi due to their similarities with fungal organisms. However, recent modifications to the biological definition of a fungus resulted to the reclassification of slime molds that now belong to kingdom protista. Fungi are non-motile and generally contain chitin in their cells walls. The absence of chitin and the ability of slime molds to transport themselves from one place to another served as the underlying reasons for the group re-assignment.

Slime molds come in a variety of colors except green due to the lack of chlorophyll in their cells. When conditions are favorable, they live independently and feed on fungi, bacteria and decayed organic matter. When the environment becomes unsuitable due to scarcity of food or a drop in temperature levels, individual cells emit a chemical that signals the other cells to assemble. The mass secretes a slimy substance that coats the entire structure. The slug-like creature then slowly glides towards sources of nutrients or warmer surroundings. When conditions become favorable again, the organism stops and undergoes reproduction.