Space Adventure

Spores and threads

 Kingdom: Protist
Scientific Name: Hemitrichia serpula
Image Courtesy of: Shirley Owens, Center for Electron Optics, Michigan State University
Image Width: 40 microns
Image Technology: SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope)

These are the spores of a slime mold. The somewhat round objects that look like raisins are the spores. The objects that look like twisted, spiky ropes are very thin threads, called "elators". The elators act as springy microbial sling shots, hurling the spores into the air. The spores, which are analogous to the seeds of plants, are carried by the wind to new locations which the slime mold then colonizes. The spores are very tough. Some are viable (can grow into new organisms) even after they have been dormant for as long as century! The spores range in color from golden yellow to brown or rusty reddish-brown. This slime mold is found in many places around the world, generally in forests. It lives on dead wood, fallen leaves and other forest litter. Although it is called a mold, this microbe is not related to fungal molds. Instead, it is a protoctist.