Some Observations on the Metamorphosis of Wolf’s Milk

 

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

The fruiting body of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

Possibly the plasmodial stage of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

Possibly the plasmodial stage of the slime mould Lycogala epidendrum

I came across these in the New Forest on Sunday. These pink domes are the spore containing stage, or fruiting body, of Lycogala epidendrum, the Wolf’s Milk Slime Mould.  If punctured, they ooze a pink toothpaste-like material.

Usually this organism exists as red coloured and microscopic amoeba-like cells  which move around on a substrate, such as a rotting log, and  feed on  bacteria.  If conditions are appropriate, these unicellular organisms will start to mate, to eventually form a large multinucleated monocellular organism known as a plasmodium, which can grow into mat up to a metre in diameter. I’m not certain, but the yellow plasmodial form of a slime pictured here, and also found at the same location, might be that of Lycogala epidendrum. In any case, the plasmodium is also mobile and can move towards food and also away from harm. Eventually, if environmental factors change for the worse, the plasmodium may  transform into the spore containing and pink fruiting bodies also seen here.

3 thoughts on “Some Observations on the Metamorphosis of Wolf’s Milk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s