Too tired to write up a proper post this time; gonna slack off by posting a few pictures of a couple slime moulds (likely same species? were near each other...) I found this morning:
(fruiting bodies on a neighbouring shrub; anyone wanna ID those?)
For the uninitiated: myxomycetes generally start out from the spore as free-living amoebae (or amoeboflagellates, depending on environment) crawling about in wet soil/dead leaves/etc; then they have sex, and undergo multiple rounds of nuclear mitosis (without cell membrane division) resulting in giant multinucleate plasmodia, like the dripping yellow thing in the first photo. The plasmodia move around feeding on stuff (mainly bacteria) until conditions deteriorate (environment dries out or food runs out). Then, they form stalked fruiting bodies, sporulate and disperse away. They're actually quite more common than you'd think, it's just that they're seldom noticed, and generally ignored due to their slime-like appearance (to some people). To the initiated, they are just another embodiment of beauty. And quite exciting to come across!
Despite the 'mould' in the name, they have little to do with fungi. In fact, for more info on slime mould diversity, go read this post. Also, Jen@The Artful Amoeba is poised to produce us some more slime mould pictures. Meanwhile, I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, as I've just pretty much mixed up and hybridised dictyostelid (cellular slime mould) and myxomycete (plasmodial slime mould) life cycles, and had to rewrite the preceding paragraph... feel free to ignore any glaring inaccuracies left lying about in this post...they never 'happened'... 'night~
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