Friday Fun – Microbial Art

23 Jul
Intricate chiral patterns formed by Paenibacillus dendritiformis grown on minimal media in a Petri dish as it searches for food.

Intricate chiral patterns formed by a single bacterial colony as it searches for food.

While roaming the great wide web for the newest microbial topic that would stir intrigue, wonder, and appreciation for the microbial world in the hearts of my readers, I stumbled across the Microbial Art Gallery and just had to share it and some fantastic images. 

The gallery is a collection of unique artwork created using living bacteria, fungi, and protists in ways you might never have imagined possible.

Not only are these tiny creatures infinitely useful, helpful, even necessary to our very existence, but they are beautiful and creative in their own right. 

Some of my favorites in the gallery (reproduced here with kind permission of Dr. Eshel Ben-Jacob) are actual images of Petri-dish cultures of Paenibacillus dendritiformis, a bacterium that has engineered these complex chiral structures through self-organization survival strategies. 

Intricate chiral patterns formed by Paenibacillus dendritiformis grown on minimal media in a Petri dish as it searches for food.

More chiral patterns formed by Paenibacillus dendritiformis grown on minimal media.

This involves cooperation and advanced communication between the cells (and results in a very pretty picture).

As Dr. Ben-Jacob and his co-authors so aptly put it, “Collectively, bacteria can glean information from the environment and from other organisms, interpret the information in a ‘meaningful’ way, develop common knowledge and learn from past experience.  The colony behaves much like a multicellular organism.”

I guess I’m just not quite sure why we’re still calling them “lower” life forms anymore.

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Ben-Jacob, E., Becker, I., Shapira, Y., and H. Levine. (2004).  Bacterial linguistic communication and social intelligence.  TRENDS in Microbiology, 12(8): 366-372. 

doi:10.1016/j.tim.2004.06.006 

 

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