Slime mold is a peculiar living thing. Earlier slime molds were also classified under fungi. There are more than 900 varieties under slime mold across the globe. They act more like animals than plants. In their active phase, slime molds are jellylike blobs. They are brightly colored. Majority of slime molds are less than few centimeters, but there are varieties with several inches in diameter too. Slime molds normally flourish among decaying vegetation. Their movements resemble giant amoebas. Slime molds swallow micro organisms and bits of rotting plant debris. Food of slime molds includes bacteria, decaying vegetation, fungi and even other slime molds. They feed on micro organisms that live in any type of dead plant material. Slime molds can be commonly seen in soil, lawns and on the forest floor.
Slime molds fall under two main categories: plasmodia, which grow better in wet and humid environments and cellular slime molds.
Slime molds begin life as amoeba cells. It exists as single individual independent cells for much of their life cycle. Later on they combine to make a larger organism consisting of multiple cells. Cellular slime molds spend most of their lives as separate single-celled amoeboid. On release of a chemical signal, the individual cells combine into a group. Plasmodia or true slime molds are a large single-celled mass with thousands of nuclei called a plasmodium. They are formed when individual cells merge together and combine.
The slime molds make their way to higher, drier places. They gradually become fruiting bodies. These structures release spores that germinate and start the cycle anew. Reproduction of slime modes is through spores. Slime modes exhibit characteristics of both fungi and animals. In the feeding stage, they move about as a mass of protoplasm. When the food supply exhausts, the plasmodium changes and takes on the appearance of a fungus. How does mould cause black spots on wet cloths and fruits?