How Do Slime Molds Reproduce?

According to the University of Wisconsin, slime molds reproduce by producing spores. When conditions are right, slime molds create vertical structures that serve to hold and eventually release the spores. Sometimes, these stalks are shaped like lollipops; however, they may be shaped more simply in other cases. When the conditions are appropriate, the spores are released so that they can become fully functioning cells.

As the University of Wisconsin explains, there are two basic types of slime molds. Some types of slime mold, known as plasmodial slime molds, form large aggregations. When this happens, the many different cells form a continuous cell wall that enshrouds the entire mass. The individual cells then lose their cell walls, yielding a single, large cell with millions of nuclei. The other primary type of slime molds, called cellular slime molds, form large aggregates, but they retain their individual cell walls. This means that the aggregate organism is actually a collection of individuals.

According to Wikipedia, scientists have described over 900 species of slime mold worldwide. These organisms exhibit a variety of colors and textures, and some are bestowed with such descriptive names as “dog vomit slime mold.” Slime molds consume a variety of food sources, including bacteria and fungi. The aggregate form, called a slug, moves towards light. In some cases, people have created artwork by taking advantage of this tendency.