Waking up sclerotia
If you have a dry piece of paper with an orange stain on it you have a sclerotia sample and will need to wake it up.
- Put a filter paper in a petri dish and dampen in (kitchen towel, ice cream tubs etc will be fine)
- Put your dried bit of paper orange side up in the middle of the petri dish and put a single oat flake next to it
- Leave it somewhere dark overnight
- The slime will wake up and will start to eat the oat, once it's fully covered the oat, add a couple more
- Keep it in the dark and gradually increase the amount of oats at each feed
When you have something the size of a 10p then you're ready to follow the care instructions below.
Looking after Physarum
- Habitat: Live slime can be kept in any waterproof container. We use petri dishes at the University of Warwick, but any plastic tub will be fine, line it with damp kitchen towel.
- Feeding: Your slime mould needs a supply of oats as a food. Just a pinch every few days is fine, if you feed lots they get very big very quickly. If you forget to feed them, they will escape. This is messy but not dangerous. Physarum doesn't like to hang around on old food so when you add new oats put them to the side of the existing food - your slime will move over to it.
- Maintenance: Once a week, change the bedding - put a fresh piece of paper near the slime with fresh food on top, your physarum will move across and you can dispose of the old paper.
- Dividing your colony: You can divide your colony at any time by moving colonised oats to a new container or cutting out a piece of slime covered paper.
- Drying slime: If you coax your slime onto fresh wet paper and leave it uncovered in the dark, it'll dry out. You can keep it for up to two years and it'll wake up when you add water. You don't even need to use a fridge!
- Safety & Disposal: Your teacher may need to complete a risk assessment before you begin your project. We recommend that you wear disposable gloves when in contact with the slime mould. When you have finished your experiment, your slime mould culture should be covered with a disinfectant solution (such as bleach or ethanol) and left overnight. Samples can also be autoclaved. Please contact us (SLS dot outreach at warwick dot ac dot uk) for more information.
What are sclerotia?
Sclerotia are physarum' emergency store - a slime mould potato that can wait out harsh environmental conditions.
They can be stored for years and are easy to wake up (which makes them a really handy way to give out cultures of slime).