Stephenson, Steven L. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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- Plasmodial slime molds
- Life cycle
- Fruiting body
- Occurrence in nature
- Cellular slime molds
- Development and reproduction
- Sexual reproduction
- Fruiting body
- Distribution and occurrence
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Eukaryotic, spore-producing, funguslike organisms that feed primarily upon bacteria and other microorganisms in terrestrial habitats. Although formerly classified as fungi, slime molds (Fig. 1) are not true fungi. Instead, they are considered protists, and they actually have more in common with the paramecium or ameba that can be observed in a drop of pond water than they do with true fungi. However, slime molds are invariably investigated by mycologists (scientists who study fungi). The plasmodial slime molds (also known as myxomycetes or myxogastrids) are the largest and best known of the slime molds, being observable directly in nature. The cellular slime molds (also known as dictyostelids) are less familiar organisms, only rarely observed under field conditions. Consequently, cellular slime molds must be grown under controlled laboratory conditions in order to be studied. Although not a particularly attractive common name, slime molds exhibit incredibly diverse forms and colors, and some of the fruiting bodies that they produce are objects of considerable beauty. See also: Ameba; Eukaryota; Eumycetozoida; Fungal ecology; Fungi; Mycology; Myxomycota; Protista; Protozoa
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