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Slime Mold Agriculture

For the first time, researchers have discovered that some slime molds can carry, seed, and harvest a crop of their bacterial diet, researchers from the University in Houston, Texas, report in this week's issue of Nature.

"While collecting D. discoideum fruiting bodies in the wild, Debra Brock of Rice University in Houston, Texas, noticed that some appeared to contain bacteria in addition to spores. Analyzing 35 wild D. discoideum colonies, Brock and colleagues discovered that one-third of the colonies tested did not eat all of the available bacteria in their location, but instead incorporated some of them into their fruiting bodies to seed a new crop of bacteria in a new location. They christened the bacteria-harboring amoebas "farmers." The other two-thirds of the amoebas, though the same species, were "non-farmers" -- they ate all the bacteria in their current location, never transporting any along with the spores of the fruiting bodies."
 
 

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