Cultivating slime molds

Hi! I was struck by the idea of grabbing a couple fruiting bodies from one of the slime molds I’ve seen nearby, and trying to cultivate it on an agar plate or similar. Does anyone here have any pointers, or references to point me to?

Too tricky for a non-biologist, a recipe for disaster, or maybe interesting? It would be Lycogala epidendrum or Trichia decipiens.

I’ve seen a ton of advice for cultivating Physarum polycephalum, but even as a non-biologist I understand that they’re very different.

Cheers,
Tim

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I’ll try tagging these helpful persons who gave me Myxomycetes advice earlier. Hope that’s in line with forum etiquette. @lotteryd @romainclem

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Myxos like oat flakes on their agar plates. But keep in mind that if you grab large fruitbody species, you will fail - these need lots of food and will be fast overrun by opportunistic fungi. Try also moist chamber culturing - again for the smaller species. More you can find here, for agar plates: http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0187-31802008000200001
for moist chambers: https://www.mycosphere.org/pdf/Mycosphere_6_3_11.pdf

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A few days ago I found a small one in one of my closed terrariums. Must have come in with some of the soil I used.

It’s climbing on the glass.

Basically it’s just a humid container with soil and plants in it. Seems to be right for this little fellow.

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A few years ago I bought some Physarum to observe it streaming. Non-Nutrient Agar works great, but you can also grow them on moist paper towels in a petri dish. They will need oats to feast on. (Warning: If they are not well fed they will escape their dish in search of food). Good Luck!

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You’ll probably have better luck peeling back the bark of rotting logs and searching for a slime mold in its plasmodium stage and just collecting some plasmodium. I’ve read that captive Physarum and Fuligo plasmodia can be kept for years and grown to various sizes depending on how much food and space you give them.

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My Physarum lasted for about 6 months before unwanted fungi killed it all out. My hope was that I could keep it running for a while, but it sadly perished.

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I you want to collect for ID, rather than for observing its behavior, I think this depends a lot on which species, and which stage they are in when collected. If the maturing process has already started, it might just continue no matter what, so you can take a sample and hopefully see it to completion (but it might also not like the disturbance and turn into a hard crust…).

You mention Lycogala and Trichia, so I would imagine that they’re already somehow recognizable and in the process of fruiting. If their location is too far or difficult to access to observe their progress in situ, it’s worth taking a piece of substrate with a few fruiting bodies attached to it, and see how they develop.
It is probably a good idea to keep the conditions (temperature, humidity, light) as close as possible to those of its original location. But I would also be careful about too much humidity, which could cause fungal mold to grow on slime mold…
Also, no need to feed the fruiting body.

I’m lucky enough to have access to close-by habitats where I can easily come back to check on maturing slime molds after I find early stages. But I’ve occasionally brought some home to see the maturation process.
For example, I had managed to take home some immature fruiting of Stemonitis (looking like a cluster of yellowish globules), which properly finished maturing into the classic chocolate tube within a few hours.

With intention to ID, I had also collected a Physarale plasmodium from under a log, and similar to others’ experience, had been able to keep it for several months in a small plastic container with moist paper towel as a substrate, feeding it oats every now and then. You have to keep an eye on mites and actual mold, and if they get out of control, you might need to transfer the slime mold to a new container for a fresh new start.
Although I kept it for a while, it never produced any fruiting so I was not able to give it a precise ID… But it’s still fun to observe! :-)
For many species, the precise conditions triggering a change from plasmodium to fruiting body are unknown, making it tricky to get a particular unknown plasmodium develop into something identifiable.

I remember having several conversations about this with @sarahlloyd, who contributed a lot to improving my understanding of myxomycetes, and to whom I’m extremely thankful!
This particular conversation might be the most relevant, but I think there are a few more. :-)

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Thanks a lot for all the answers! They’re greatly appreciated! My interest was mostly of fascination, not to ID the unknown.

Extra thank-you for indirectly pointing me to the Slime Mold Identification & Appreciation facebook group!

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Hi Tim, I haven’t taken the collection plunge yet, but if I do, I would probably study the chapter on collection/culture in this book I have on hand: https://www.amazon.com/Myxomycetes-Handbook-Steven-L-Stephenson/dp/0881924393

At a glance it looks like something a novice could get started on!

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I like this book, for the UC Santa Cruz area:
https://www.amazon.com/Curious-Observers-Guide-Slime-Beyond/dp/1725169428/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Curious+Observer's+Guide+to+Slime+Mold+of+UC&qid=1602339626&sr=8-1

It was very accessible and not overly technical for slime mold newbies, I think; which I found to be appealing.

In this self-described love letter to slime, naturalist, student and slime mold enthusiast Carrie Niblett provides background information, photographs, diagrams and 22 species descriptions of slime molds that can be found on the UC Santa Cruz campus and in terrestrial ecosystems around the globe. You can find slime molds occupying damp logs and creeping over leaf litter steps away from the classroom but until you picked up this book, these strange and beautiful organisms may have been hidden in plain sight. Let this guide be your companion as you take a peek into the curious world of slime molds

Oh, I just realized the author, Carrie Niblett, is on iNat. @cnibs

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It’s been about 30 years since I tried to do this, but I remember that the spores can be soaked in a mild detergent solution to help them sporulate.