The plasmodium of the true slime mold, Physarum polycephalum, which shows various nonlinear oscillatory phenomena, for example, in its thickness, protoplasmic streaming and concentration of intracellular chemicals, can be regarded as a collective of nonlinear oscillators. The plasmodial oscillators are interconnected by microscale tubes whose dimensions can be closely related to the strength of interaction between the oscillators. Investigation of the collective behavior of the oscillators under the conditions in which the interaction strength can be systematically controlled gives significant information on the characteristics of the system. In this study, we proposed a living model system of a coupled oscillator system in the Physarum plasmodium. We patterned the geometry and dimensions of the microscale tube structure in the plasmodium by a microfabricated structure (microstructure). As the first step, we constructed a two-oscillator system for the plasmodium that has two wells (oscillator part) and a channel (coupling part). We investigated the oscillation behavior by monitoring the thickness oscillation of the plasmodium in the microstructure with various channel widths. It was found that the oscillation behavior of two oscillators dynamically changed depending on the channel width. Based on the results of measurements of the tube dimensions and the velocity of the protoplasmic streaming in the tube, we discuss how the channel width relates to the interaction strength of the coupled oscillator system. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
ASJC Scopus subject areas