Using slime mold to engineer transport networks

Rebuilding Iberian motorways with slime mould - Andrew Adamatzky and Ramon Alonso-Sanz. Biosystems

Computer scientist Andrew Adamatzky utilizes slime mold’s ability to build its own, efficient nutrient transport network, to crack mathematical problems.

In his latest study, co-authored with Ramon Alonso-Sanz from the Polytechnic University Madrid, the mold (Physarum polycephalum) constructs an optimal transport system between oatflakes stacked on an agar plate, layed out as a map of cities in Spain and Portugal.

The research paper compares this living network with the road network built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Remarkably, out of eleven major man-made routes, the slime mold recreated seven.

Wired has more background on the research. There’s also another Youtube video of a similar experiment based on towns in the Netherlands.

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