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Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters

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Sclerotia of the acellular (true) slime mould Fuligo septica as a model to study melanization and anabiosis

1Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387, Kraków, Poland

2Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden

© 2007 University of Wrocław, Poland. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Citation Information: Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters. Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 130–143, ISSN (Online) 1689-1392, DOI: 10.2478/s11658-007-0047-5, October 2007

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Acellular (true) slime moulds (Myxomycetes) are capable of a transition to the stage of sclerotium — a dormant form of plasmodium produced under unfavourable environmental conditions. In this study, sclerotia of Fuligo septica were analyzed by means of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. The moulds were cultivated in vitro on filter paper, fed with oat flour, and kept until the plasmodia began to produce sclerotia. The obtained sclerotia differed in colour from yellow through orange to dark-brown. The EPR spectra revealed a free radical, melanin-like signal correlated with the depth of the colour; it was strongest in the dark sclerotia. Sclerotization only took place when the plasmodia were starved and very slowly dried. Only the yellow sclerotia were able to regenerate into viable plasmodia. This suggests that myxomycete cytoplasm dehydration is an active process regulated metabolically. Plasmodial sclerotization may therefore serve as a convenient model system to study the regulation of cytoplasmatic water balance, and sclerotia as a convenient material for EPR measurements, combining the quality of plasmodia with the technical simplicity of the measurements characteristic of dry spores. Darkening of the sclerotia is most probably a pathological phenomenon connected with the impairment of water balance during sclerotization.

Keywords: Aquaporins; Dehydration; EPR; Melanin; Myxomycetes; Pigmentation

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