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Transfer function of protoplasmic tubes of Physarum polycephalum

de Lacy Costello, Ben P.J.; Whiting, James G. H.; de Lacy Costello, Ben; Adamatzky, Andrew


Ben P.J. de Lacy Costello

James Whiting
Occasional Associate Lecturer - CATE - ENG


© 2015. The slime mould Physarum polycephalum is a large single celled myxomycete; its plasmodium consists of tubes which extend to find sources of food. It has been previously shown that the tubes are conductive with a resistance of approximately 3. MΩ, and have been used in basic DC circuits. Hybrid slime mould-electronic circuits have been proposed, using the protoplasmic tubes, grown between agar, as Physarum wires. This paper aims to evaluate the electrical properties of the protoplasmic tubes with respect to analogue and digital waveforms. The Physarum wires act as low pass filters with a mean cut off frequency of 19. kHz (SD 9. KHz); they have a 12.1. dB/decade roll-off (SD 1.9. dB/decade). Mean attenuation across the band-pass range is -6. dB (S.D. 4.5. dB). The mechanism for the frequency dependant attenuation is unknown however a combination of protoplasmic electrolyte and the cytoskeletal structure is the most likely cause. The tubes last approximately 2 weeks before forming a dry sclerotia, when they cease being conductive and is the prevalent limiting factor of their practical use; this is caused by dehydration and lack of nutrition, a limitation which may be overcome. The potential for Physarum wires in hybrid circuits is strengthened; while previous circuits were simple DC circuits, this work demonstrates that they may be used as electronic components or wires in both digital and analogue circuits or even as a computing component in analogue computers.


de Lacy Costello, B. P., Whiting, J. G. H., de Lacy Costello, B., & Adamatzky, A. (2015). Transfer function of protoplasmic tubes of Physarum polycephalum. BioSystems, 128, 48-51.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 25, 2015
Journal BioSystems
Print ISSN 0303-2647
Electronic ISSN 1872-8324
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 128
Pages 48-51
Keywords physarum wires, biological electronics, frequency response, passive filter
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