© Audrey DUSSUTOUR / CRCA / CNRS Photothèque
Development of the social amoeba Physarum polycephalum, commonly referred to as the "blob". This primitive unicellular organism moves by extending its pseudopodia while contracting its venous system. It can reach a top speed of 4 cm per hour. Its many characteristics include the ability to heal itself in less than two minutes and reorganise its entire venous system in three hours. It can also be cloned if it is cut into 1-mm pieces. Sensitive to light, it grows in damp environments and feeds on bacteria and fungi. It can double in size each day. Although it has no brain, it is capable of learning from its experiences and passing on the information learned to other individuals by fusing with them, demonstrating that learning is not necessarily dependent on the nervous system. Lastly, it has a venous system that forms according to the same physical laws that govern the vascularisation of cancerous tumours, making it a model of interest for research.