Consumer-Decomposer Protists (Slime Moulds):-
They possess the characters of both animals and fungi.
⚜Slime moulds are saprophytic protists. Anton De Bary (1887) related them to animals and called them as Mycetozoa.
⚜ These are also named as fungus animals because they share the common characters of both animals and are known as protistian jungi, and due to their protistian nature.
⚜The generalfeatures of slime moulds are discussed here (t) Slime moulds are acellular and cellular types, about 600 species of slime moulds are reported by biologists out of which 27 species are known from India.
(ii) They are found in moist terrestrial places rich in decaying organic food.
(iii) The body of slime moulds is covered with mucilage having gelatinous consistency, they do not have chlorophyll.
(iv) They are surrounded by plasma membrane. However, the spores have the ceflulosic cell walls.
(v) They show phagotropic or saprotrophic nutrition.
(vi) Both sexual and asexual modes of reproduction occur.
(vii) They are like Protozoa in their amoeboid plasmodial stage and similar to true fungi in spore formation.
(viii) Acellular slime moulds (plasmodial slime moulds) are commonly found on dead and decaying plant matter. The cellular slime moulds occur in all humus-containing upper layer of damp soil. When the food supply is shorter or conditions are not favourable, the amoeboid cells form aggregate without any fusion.
⚜This aggregated mass is called pseudoplasmodium. The examples of cellular slime moulds are dictyostelium and polysphondylium.
(ix) Plasmodium is the free-living thalloid body of the acellular slime moulds. It is wall-less mass of multinucleate protoplasm covered by slime layer. During unfavourable conditions, the Plasmodium differentiates and forms fruiting bodies bearing spores at their tips. WTiile during favourable conditions, Plasmodium can spread over several feet.
(x) Slime moulds are beneficial as they cause the decomposition of organic matter in the soil.