Commonly referred to as a type of "slime mold," the eumycetozoans are a monophyletic group of terrestrial amoeboid protists that produce aerial spore-bearing structures. These complex microorganisms are found worldwide and thrive in cool, dark environments where they feed on bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and cyanobacteria.
One characteristic scientists find interesting about slime molds is their unique life cycles, which alternate between unicellular and multicellular stages, and the genetic changes that bring about these shifts. When a single-celled slime mold has exhausted a food source, for example, other slime molds intuitively are drawn to it and attach themselves to form one big multicellular organism. It then moves, spreading in the direction of a new food source. The extent of this spread can be quite impressive, sometimes spanning countries.
There’s much scientists can learn from the mechanisms that drive eumycetozoans as they mimic characteristics of human disease, including cancer. The hope is that studying slime molds could lead to new therapies. There’s also research being conducted in the treatment of dementia. The species Dictyostelium discoideum, for example, has even been used to produce cell structures that have been found in Alzheimer’s disease, providing a better understanding of the disease.
To support research on these incredible microorganisms, ATCC launched the Eumycetozoan Special Collection in partnership with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 2004. The collection is a key part of the National Science Foundation’s Planetary Biodiversity Inventory: Global Biodiversity of Eumycetozoans grant, which also supported the university's Eumycetozoan Project database. ATCC houses hundreds of eumycetozoans and serves as a repository for the project, with strains cultured and preserved from South America, Russia, Madagascar, the Antarctic Peninsula, India, and numerous other collection sites.
Explore our Eumycetozoans Special Collection strains below to further your research today.