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Celebrate Slime: Hands-on Science with Sarah Lloyd, Westbury Tas.
August 18 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pmFree
Slime moulds love wet weather. Plasmodia become active and eventually form exquisite fruiting bodies. Sarah Lloyd will show photographs, answer questions and bring a range of different species for close inspection. Participants can also view the exhibition ‘Slime Moulds – Nature’s miniature jewels’.
Acellular or plasmodial slime moulds – the myxomycetes – have baffled scientists and naturalists for centuries. They have been placed in the kingdoms plant, fungi, animal and protista, based on their very different life stages comprising single-celled amebae, moving feeding plasmodia and spore-bearing ‘fruits’. They are now considered to be amoebozoans.
Myxamoebae – the first feeding stage of a myxomycete – can comprise up to 50% of soil microbes. They feed on bacteria and other single-celled organisms and are important in recycling nutrients and enriching soils. Their second feeding plasmodial stage is occasionally visible on logs, stumps and soil. During favourable conditions plasmodia start to produce fruiting bodies.
Because slime moulds are ephemeral and extremely small, they are easily overlooked. They are among the least studied of all the microorganisms and Australia is believed to be the least studied country in the world. Temperate forests are known to be the richest sites for slime moulds so living in the middle of a Tasmanian forest is an ideal place to study them.
In 2010 Sarah Lloyd started to search regularly for slime moulds in the forest surrounding her home. Fruiting bodies or plasmodia often emerge overnight or in the morning and many are brightly coloured and highly visible when they first appear. Their location can be marked and their progress monitored as they mature and become less conspicuous. Fruiting bodies are collected in good condition (i.e. before they are spoiled by rain, invertebrates or fungi) and lodged at the National Herbarium of Victoria where they are available for study.
Tasmania’s wintry weather is perfect for slime mould activity. As the weather changes from cold and frosty to wild, windy and wet, plasmodia creep about among leaf litter and over logs and stumps, eventually to form fruiting bodies on leaves, twigs and wood. Sarah will describe and answer questions about these remarkable organisms and participants will find out where to find them and see a range of different species so they know what to look for. They will also be able to view the exhibition of stunning photographs ‘Slime Moulds – Nature’s miniature jewels’ currently on view at the Meander Valley Council office.
Phone: 03 6396 1380
See more at:sarahlloydmyxos.wordpress.com/