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Mature fruiting stage (sporangia) of a slime mold.
Growing under bark on rotting wood in a deciduous forest.
Slime molds spend most of their lives as single-celled organisms that live in soil and prey on bacteria. But, when their food sources are in short supply, thousands of slime mold cells will aggregate to form a mass. They then grow into a fruiting body, which includes a tiny stalk that peeks out of the ground and holds spores. This fruiting body (sporangia) stage is what we commonly see. The sporangia will then release spores and begin the life cycle again. Slime molds often appear to look like fungi, but not actually related to true fungi.