Thursday, June 30, 2022

What is Slime Mold?4 min read

slime mold growing on plants
slime mold growing on plants (click here for original source IMG)

Do you know what is slime mold? If you do not, you are certainly among a very large percentage of the population that does not.

The only way you will learn what this latest discovery is by reading the news, which features many new findings in all areas of science and technology.

Let us start with what this fungal single celled organism really is. Slime molds are in the family of fungi called Candida and are single-celled organisms. This makes them unlike any other known species of fungus or any other single-celled organism for that matter. Their scientific name, Chrysoboroma glutinosa, gives a clue as to what they look like; however, the picture is somewhat hazy due to the fact that no one has ever been able to photograph this fungal species alive. There are a few species of this single-celled organism, however, that does look like tiny black dots.

Some people, mostly farmers, have been trying to get the scientific community to recognize what is slime mold. One scientist suggested that we use the name Physarum polycephalum for the single-celled organisms that have been found. It should be noted, however, that the word polycephalum is also used for several other organisms. A number of research projects have tried to identify other unusual organisms, such as the sand mold Aspergillus or the yeasts called candida. Still, more work is needed to recognize the real organisms involved in this fungal problem.

All organisms have the ability to form slime molds, which can be particularly unsightly in damp conditions. Most of the time the organisms that appear in these forms are not very well known. In fact, only a few kinds of organisms are known to cause this type of problem. For instance, the particular species of fungus called Cladosporium can grow on wood mulch in wet weather. Other species may infect wood mulch but are too small to be seen. But, what makes slim mold most interesting is that it possesses memory and can learn its environment.

The most common kind of this fungus is Cladosporium, which often infects dead leaves and stems of grass. The spores of this fungus travel to soil where they attach to plant roots and cause a fungal infection. These cladosporium species can often infect your grass blades and trigger a green-up or at least an abnormal looking molds or slimy growth. This condition is called powdery mildew. Powdery mildew does not damage your lawn in most cases, although it does prevent water from penetrating the soil.

Some cases of grass growth resembling slime molds have not been caused by cladosporium but by some other kind of fungi. The most common of these are Stachybotrys chartarum or filamentous mould, which is probably the most commonly known. Fungi that produce Stachybotrys spores are known as mycosporia, a situation where the fungi are actually damaging the plant instead of just transporting nutrients to and from the plants. So, the growth of the Stachybotrys mold can be confused with the early signs of lawn problems, and you might end up wasting time and money without ever solving the problem.

There are several different types of fungi that might cause Stachybotrys or filamentous fungi. If you think you have one of these fungi growing in the lawn, you should get a microscope and take a close look at the spores. When a new fungus is developing, it produces spores that can be seen with the naked eye. The microscope should be able to help find and identify the spores and help make a diagnosis of the lawn disease causing the green-up or slimy growth on the lawn.

Provided by Antonio Westley

Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.

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