Slime mould absorbs substances to memorise them

03 May 2019 par webmaster
In 2016, CNRS scientists demonstrated that the slime mould Physarum polycephalum, a single-cell organism without a nervous system, could learn to no longer fear a harmless but aversive substance and could transmit this knowledge to a fellow slime mould. In a new study, a team from CNRS and the Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier has shown what might support this memory and in fact it could be the aversive substance itself! These results were published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B on 22 April 2019.
Fusion of venous network of two blobs © David Villa/ CBI-Toulouse / CNRS Photothèque

Physarum polycephalum is a complex single-cell organism that has no nervous system. It can learn and transfer its knowledge to its fellow slime moulds via fusion. How it did so was a mystery. Researchers at the Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CNRS/UT3 Paul Sabatier)1 have recently demonstrated that slime moulds learn to tolerate a substance by absorbing it.

This discovery stems from an observation: slime moulds only exchange information when their venous networks fuse. In that case, does knowledge circulate through these veins? Is it the substance that the slime mould gets used to that supports its memory?

Read more on CNRS website (in french)

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Memory inception and preservation in slime moulds : the quest for a common mechanism.

A. Broussard, J. Delescluse, A. Pérez-Escudero et A. Dussutour.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B le 22 avril 2019.


Audrey Dussutour

CNRS Researcher, CRCA / CBI-Toulouse

+33 5 61 55 64 41