Aethalium of a slime mold (Fuligo septica)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
(unranked): Unikonta
(unranked): Amoebozoa
Subphylum: Conosa
Infraphylum: Mycetozoa
de Bary, 1873
Classes and orders
  • Eumycetozoa Zopf, 1884, emend. Olive, 1975
  • Myxomycota sensu Whittaker, 1969[1]

Mycetozoa is a grouping of slime molds.[2]


It can be divided into dictyostelid, myxogastrid, and protostelid groups.[3]

The mycetozoan groups all fit into the unikont supergroup Amoebozoa, whereas most other slime molds fit into various bikont groups (fonticulids are opisthokonts).

Utility in research

Dictyostelids are used as examples of cellular communication and differentiation, and may provide insights into how multicellular organisms develop.

Slime molds like Physarum polycephalum are useful for studying cytoplasmic streaming. They have also been used to study the biochemical events that surround mitosis, since all of the nuclei in a medium-sized plasmodium divide in synchrony. It has been observed that they can find their way through mazes by spreading out and choosing the shortest path, an interesting example of information processing without a nervous system. Myxomycete plasmodia have also been used to study the genetics of asexual cell fusion. The giant size of the plasmodial cells allows for easy evaluation of complete or partial cell fusion.

In 2006, researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Kobe reported that they had built a six-legged robot whose movement was remotely controlled by a Physarum slime mold.[4] The mold directed the robot into a dark corner most similar to its natural habitat.

Slime molds are sometimes studied in advanced mathematics courses. Slime mold aggregation is a natural process that can be approximated with partial differential equations.


Members of the Mycetozoa group are able to undergo sexual reproduction either by heterothallic or homothallic mating.[5][6][7] An analysis of meiosis-related genes in the Dictyostelium discoideum genome revealed that 36 of the 44 genes tested were present in the genome.[8] One gene, Spo11, was absent in the Mycetozoa, raising questions about the assumed universal role of Spo11 as an initiator of meiosis.[8]


  1. Whittaker RH (1969). "New concepts of kingdoms or organisms" (PDF). Science. 163 (3863): 150–160. doi:10.1126/science.163.3863.150.
  2. "Mycetozoa - Definition from Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary". Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  3. Baldauf SL, Doolittle WF (October 1997). "Origin and evolution of the slime molds (Mycetozoa)". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 94 (22): 12007–12. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.22.12007. PMC 23686. PMID 9342353.
  4. "Robot moved by a slime mould's fears - tech - 13 February 2006 - New Scientist". Retrieved 2009-03-27.
  5. Robson GE, Williams KL (1980). "The mating system of the cellular slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum". Curr. Genet. 1 (3): 229–32. doi:10.1007/BF00390948. PMID 24189663.
  6. Flowers JM, Li SI, Stathos A, Saxer G, Ostrowski EA, Queller DC, Strassmann JE, Purugganan MD (2010). "Variation, sex, and social cooperation: molecular population genetics of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum". PLoS Genet. 6 (7): e1001013. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001013. PMC 2895654. PMID 20617172.
  7. O'Day DH, Keszei A (2012). "Signalling and sex in the social amoebozoans". Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 87 (2): 313–29. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2011.00200.x. PMID 21929567.
  8. Tekle YI, Wood FC, Katz LA, Cerón-Romero MA, Gorfu LA (2017). "Amoebozoans are Secretly but Ancestrally Sexual: Evidence for Sex Genes and Potential Novel Crossover Pathways in Diverse Groups of Amoebae". Genome Biol Evol. 9: 375–387. doi:10.1093/gbe/evx002. PMC 5381635. PMID 28087686.
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