Quirks & Quarks

The slime mold... it's learning!

It's got no eyes, no mouth, loves oatmeal and is oddly intelligent.
Slime mold is a single cell organism that can group together and is oddly intelligent. More than 900 species of slime mold occur all over the world. (Audrey Dussutour)

Slime mold is a strange, creeping blob-like organism that is comprised of one giant cell. 

It is not an animal, plant or fungus, and has no brain or central nervous system.  Yet slime mold, a greenish-yellowish mass commonly found in the low light of forest floors, continually fascinates scientists with its inexplicable feats. 

One of those scientists is Dr. Audrey Dussutour, a researcher from Université de Toulouse in France.  Her new study found that, despite its obvious limitations, slime mold can learn and teach. 

The researchers hope to understand how this is possible, with an eye to exploring whether non-neural learning could exist in other organisms, such as bacteria. 

Research paper: Direct transfer of learned behaviour via cell fusion in non-neural organisms