Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.
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Can anyone identify this object - I am unable to determine if it is plant, animal or bacteria, mold or algae. Any input is appreciated.
Background: Hundreds of these objects appeared on my deck, following a heavy rain. When dry, they resemble seed pods. When saturated, they resemble grapes. They appear to be chlorophyll filled. If I rupture the membrane, they reduce to a gelatinous puddle with a dusty substance inside (spores?). If I place the 'pod' in water, it dramatically swells. It acts like desiccant. I've goggled bacterial colonies, slime mold, cinnamon fern spores, larvae, amphibian eggs and nothing matches. The closest thing I have found was cyanobacteria - nostoc. They also might be ootheca? I apologize in advance if I've come to the wrong board to post this question.
Could it be this?
Overhanging the deck are oak and beech trees. After many hours of online research, I think I have ID'd these objects.
I believe they are plasmodial stemonitis slime molds.
If anyone is interested, here are some interesting facts:
Hard seed pod phase of life is called sclerotium:
If the plasmodium begins to dry out too quickly or is starved, it forms a survival structure called a sclerotium. This hard-walled mass protects the dormant cells inside until better conditions for growth return. Inside the sclerotium, the plasmodium divides into "cells", each containing from 0 - 4 nuclei. The cell-like structures which contain nuclei can grow into new plasmodia when moisture and temperature conditions improve.
Cool fact, these are mobile and act like amoebas!
This giant cell moves, but only pictures taken over several days can show its progress. Its top speed is 1 mm per hour.
Slime molds move, and lack chitin in their cell walls. They are now classified as belonging to the Kingdom Protista (Protoctista). Mycologists have studied them for so long that slime molds are still included in mycology textbooks.
From http://www.uwlax.edu/biology/zoo-lab/La ... -Molds.htm :
The true plasmodial slime molds exist in nature as a plasmodium, a multinucleate blob of protoplasm up to several centimeters in diameter, without cell walls and only a cell membrane to keep everything in. This “supercell” (a syncytium) is essentially a large ameba with thousands of individual nuclei that feeds by engulfing its food (mostly bacteria) with pseudopodia in a process called phagocytosis. Thus the slime mold ingests its food and then digests it.
When the plasmodium runs out of food, or environmental conditions become harsh, they often form elaborate (often beautiful) fruiting bodies made mostly from calcium carbonate and protein that produce spores that allow them to move to a new food source. These later germinate to form uninucleate amebas or flagellated swarm cells. These later fuse and then divide mitotically to form a plasmodium, completing the life cycle. One fascinating thing about plasmodial slime molds is that the millions of nuclei in a single plasmodium all divide at the same time. This makes slime molds ideal tools for scientists studying mitosis, the process of nuclear division.
Occasionally, during rainy periods, large plasmodia (up to a few meters in diameter) crawl out of the woods and into people's lawns and gardens. The plasmodium may be ugly to some, but it is not harmful. Slime molds cause very little damage. The plasmodium ingests bacteria, fungal spores, and maybe other smaller protozoa. Their ingestion of food is one reason slime molds are not considered to be fungi. Fungi produce enzymes exogenously (outside of their bodies) that break down organic matter into chemicals that are absorbed through their cell walls, not ingested.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... _14309.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/myriorama/ ... Cmyriorama
Last link looks nearly identical to mine.
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