The plasmodium of the true slime mold Physarum polycephalum, which shows various oscillatory phenomena, can be regarded as a collective of nonlinear oscillators. Partial bodies in the plasmodium, which are assumed to be nonlinear oscillators, are mutually connected by microscale tubes named plasmodial strand. The interactions among the oscillators can be strongly affected by the geometry and the dimension of the tube network. Investigation of the collective behavior under the condition that the configuration of the network can be manipulated gives significant information on the characteristics of the plasmodium from the viewpoint of nonlinear dynamics. In this study, we have developed a new method to control the geometry and the tube dimension of the plasmodium with a microfabricated structure. It is shown that the geometry of the plasmodium can be manipulated with a microstructure which is fabricated of ultrathick photoresist resin by photolithographic processes. In order to confirm that not only the geometry but also the dimension of the tubes can be controlled with the microstructure, we observed the cross section of the patterned plasmodium with a three-dimensional internal-structure microscope. By observing the oscillatory behavior of the partial bodies of the patterned plasmodium, it was confirmed that the coupling strength between two oscillators, which corresponds to the dimension of the plasmodial strand, can be controlled by the microstructure. It is concluded that the present method is suitable for further studies of the network of Physarum plasmodium as a collective nonlinear oscillator system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas