Cellular slime molds are extraordinary life forms that exhibit features of both fungi and protozoa, although often classed for convenience with fungi. At one time they were regarded as organisms of ambiguous taxonomic status, but more recent analysis of DNA sequences has shown that slime molds should be regarded as inhabiting their own separate kingdom. Their uniqueness lies in their unusual life cycle, which alternates between a feeding stage in which the organism is essentially unicellular and a reproductive stage in which the organism adopts a multicellular structure. At the first stage they are free-living, separate amoebae, usually inhabiting the forest floor and ingesting bacteria found in rotting wood, dung, or damp soil. But their food supplies are relatively easily exhausted since the cells' movements are restricted and their food requirements rather large.
The word "ingesting" in the passage is closest in meaning to