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In its vegetative state, H. serpula is a light-yellow or golden-yellow-colored plasmodium. The pretzel-like branches of the plasmodium twist and turn, forming a network that can cover many square centimeters. H. serpula have a type of plasmodium known as phaneroplamodium (the two other major types are aphanoplasmodium and protoplasmodium). This type of plasmodium has a lot of rapid cytoplasmic streaming, veins (aka branches), and granular protoplasm. The color of the plasmodium tends to darken (often to a mustard or golden brown color) as it matures, eventually giving rise to fruiting bodies known as plasmodiocarps. Plasmodiocarps are one of four main types of myxomycota fruiting bodies (the other types are sporangia, aethallium, and pseudoaethallium), and they are the same color/texture as the mature plasmodium. With plasmodiocarps, the plasmodium structure is concentrated in the main branches, and a two-layer peridium forms around the outside of the plasmodiocarp structure (0.4 — 0.6mm wide) to enclose the masses of banded, reticulate spores. The peridium eventually breaks down to release a fluffy yellow mass containing yellow spores. The fluffy part of the mass is the capillitium, which is a matrix of threads (yellow, in this case) in which the spores are embedded. The capillitium is made of lime, or calcium carbonate, and serves as a time-release mechanisim for the spores by trapping the spores in the matrix, letting them go when the time is right. Up close, the capillitium is spinulose and resembles hemp-rope. The ends of the threads are free and closed. H. serpula has been observed to fruit during rainy/moisture-rich seasons during the summer.
H. serpula, in its plasmodial vegetative phase, creeps over a variety of surfaces by cytoplasmic streaming, feeding on bacteria, protozoa, other fungi, and non-living organic matter. Surfaces over which it creeps include soil, rotting wood, plant litter, and, in rarer cases, the bark of living trees. When mature and conditions are suitable (warm and wet conditions), the organism produces fruit bodies that give rise to spores, which can germinate into two different types of haploid cells: myxamoebae or flagellated swarm cells. An amoeboid cell can fuse with a flagellated swarm cell to form a zygote. The zygote can divide by mitosis and eventually grow into a mature plasmodium.
Nathan Wilson (nathan)
Following modified from Taiwan Biodiversity National Information Network
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