Slime mold Andi talks to Nina

Today we welcome a rather unusual guest on the blog: Slime Mold Andi.

If you could ask a question of a brainless protist renowned for their adaptability, efficiency and memory, what would you ask?

I asked (unsurprisingly), "Andi, what do you think about the Sixth Mass Extinction?"

Andi's human keeper, Jan-Maarten Luursema, relayed my question out loud, then left Andi to their own devices to answer via an ingenious slime-mold-to-human translation method. Andi moves their protozoal yellow body around in the Petri dish, touching letters in order to spell words. A camera records the motion and reads the response out loud. Watch here:

Transcript: "Skyrocket soapstone NHS WV XO I reinforced. You thwart cytoplasm we Soyuz USDA resolute acidify flattering undersoil, hares."

As Jan-Maarten said to me, "Andi is somewhat dense and poetic, no doubt because communicating takes a lot of effort for them and images count for a lot of words."

I took my best shot at interpreting Andi's poetic message, which I welcome you to read on Andi's website, here.

You can even follow Andi on Twitter and ask them a question of your own!

Here are a few of Andi's wild relatives who, as far as I know, aren't on Twitter... They are all a species called Dog Vomit Slime Mold or, more pleasantly, Witch's Butter. The Dutch name, Jan-Maarten taught me, is Heksenboter, and the Latin is Fuligo septica.

I came upon this glowing, banana-yellow specimen in Mousehold Heath, an unassuming public woodland in Norwich, England, in September.

This deliciously oozy organism was clinging to a tree in Washington's Hoh Rainforest this summer.

I wonder what its gooey tendrils feel like to that plant!

Truly something from the science fiction movie Annihilation...

Human Collin peers around the trunk for scale.