Myxomycetes – the class of true slime molds; essentially equivalent to the division Myxomycota.

Slime mold is a broad term describing fungi-like organisms that use spores to reproduce. They were formerly classified as fungi, but are no longer considered part of this group.

 

Their common name refers to part of some of these organism’s lifecycles where they can appear gelatinous (hence the name slime). However, this feature is mostly seen with the myxomycetes, which are the only macroscopic slime molds.

Slime molds have been found all over the world and feed on microorganisms that live in any type of dead plant material. For this reason, these organisms are usually found in soil, lawns, and on the forest floor, commonly on deciduous logs. However, in tropical areas they are also common on inflorescences, fruits and in aerial situations (e.g., in the canopy of trees). In urban areas, they are found on mulch or even in the leaf mold in gutters. One of the most commonly encountered slime molds, both in nature in forests in the temperate zones of the earth as well as in classrooms and laboratories is the yellow Physarum polycephalum.

Mycetozoa from Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 Kunstformen der Natur (Artforms of Nature)

Most slime mold are smaller than a few centimetres, but the very largest recorded reached an area of up to thirty square metres, making them the largest undivided cells known. Many have striking colours such as yellow, brown and white.

myxomycetes

slime mold

myxomycetes

slime mold

myxomycetes

slime mold

myxomycetes

myxomycetes