Among the most mysterious and exciting creatures on Earth are Physarum polycephalum, commonly referred to as a “blob”. This form of primitive and special life appeared on the blue planet approximately 500 million years ago, can reach spectacular dimensions.
The blob is not neither an animal nor a plant nor a mushroom. It is a single-celled living creature found in nature, especially in moist and dark places. Scientists have also learned how to grow it in the laboratory. This organization can reach very large sizeswhether in the forest or in the laboratory, depending on the conditions of its environment.
But by the way, what is a blob?
Physarum polycephalum is an amoebozoan classified since 2015 among myxomycetes, of the order Physarales. This creature particularly arouses the curiosity of researchers for several reasons. Indeed, if we refer to his biological life cycle, we can say thatshe is immortal.
If the conditions in its environment are unfavorable, it is able toenter a sleep mode. When the environment becomes favorable for its development, he is resurrected. Even more, amazing, the blob is a gifted cell. She is able to learn from her mistakes and pass on information to her peers. She seems to gifted with memory.
“The lump is a fascinating living creature because they tell us about our origins. It appeared more than 500 million years ago and proves to us that learning preceded the emergence of the brain. »
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What is the size of Physarum polycephalum ?
that physarum polycephalum has been the subject of several scientific studies. This is the experience “Raise Your Blob” initiated by CNES and CNRDwhere to Audrey Shower tour , a French scientist, attended. Audrey Dussutour is also the author of the book “Everything you ever wanted to know about the blob ». This document provides information about the surface that the creature can cover.
So the blob measures five hundredths of a millimeterat the beginning of its existence. Impressive stuff: it can double size every day . This means that it grows quite quickly and becomes visible. In nature, this creature can reach an incredible size. She is able to multiply its size by 200,000during its existence.
The body is able to move. It can go up to four centimeters per hour. For example, if you leave it under the table, the next day you may find it above it looking for food. It lives in cool and moist environments. So it is possible to find it at home, in a park, in the forest and in culture, as well as in the laboratory of course. But don’t worry, the creature is completely harmless. She feeds of bacteria and mould.
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What are the biggest blobs in the world?
Early in his life, the Physarum polycephalum is small and invisible to the naked eye. However, there are blobs that cover very large areas.
Largest blob in the world found in nature – 1 square kilometer
The blob develops especially in wetlands, on the bark of trees, protected from light. Several large blobs have thus been discovered in nature. The largest was at USA, Appalachia, West Virginia. This blob reached a total area ofone square kilometer.
Largest laboratory lump in the world – 10 square meters
In the laboratory, blobs are particularly useful for genetic research. They are basically there oatmeal fed. According to Guinness book of recordsthat largest lab-grown blob measures 10 square meters . It is obviously one and the same cell.
The fact is that the blob has the ability to split its cores while keeping the cell intact. A cell can thus have many nuclei.
To go further, there are neither males nor females in blobs. The researchers were able to record 720 sexual types in this species! This feature facilitates their reproduction. It has a blob actually 719 chances to find a partner to merge with when it encounters another blob.
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The longest blob in the world is in France – 53.9 meters
Earlier this year, students and “blobbers” from all over France gathered Blaise Pascal high school in Chateaurouxfor Big Blob Record. This is a fun-educational event organized with the support of the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research). After merging their blobs, they created one single blob 53.9 meters long.
Their creation was approved by Guinness book as being longest blob in the world . The previous record was held by the blue whale’s motor neuron, 30 metersfrom the whale’s head to its tail.
At the same time they beat record for the longest unicellular organism. This was previously held by caulerpa, a green algae about ten meters long.
“The record has the advantage that it focuses on scientific research. There is enthusiasm among the students. »
Nicolas Debus, professor of biotechnology at Castelroussin high school