The hay infusion that I set up around a month ago is still evolving. New very fast moving microbial predators.have just appeared
I gazed from above into a woody glade of green algae and came across a big surprise. A tiny Water Bear (Hypsibius dujardini) having a microscopic picnic. 500 micrometres of improbable microbial cuteness
One of the most beautiful and elegant of the all the infusoria. In this video the Volvox is imaged, at first, using normal brightfield illumination. After a short time, a DIC module is moved into the light path, so that it is then viewed via Differential Interference Contrast Microscopy. I like the way that DIC reveals the patterns of flow generated by the Volvox
A fast moving and slender cell of Paramecium caudata is introduced into a massive “flock” of its prey, the yeast Saccharomyces cereviseae. Some thirty minutes later, the Paramecium has gorged itself to a standstill and become rather swollen in the process. As you can see it’s literally stuffed with food!
Microbes employ many different stategies for hunting prey, from acting as lone assassins to wolf-pack hunting. Here I have stained cells of the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cereviseae with the Erlich stain (methylene blue) and then let Paramecium caudatum hunt them down. Paramecium is much lager than the small blue yeast cells that can be just made out in the videos. If you look closely at the revolving Paramecium you should be able to see small blue cells within them. These are yeast cells that they have captured and which are being eaten.
In the video in the middle, small blue yeast cells appear to orbit the Paramecium. This is because they have been snagged by trichocysts, microscopic harpoon-like devices that the Paramecium uses for both defence and capturing prey
Marine bioluminescent organisms produce a unique, powerful, and ancient living light. This refined light can travel over large distances in seawater and consequently, many of the sea’s inhabitants use this as a medium for communication. In this work, seawater has been infused with cells of the naturally bioluminescent algae, Pyrocystis fusiformis. In the dark, and when it is disturbed, this otherwise barely visible marine life form produces a flash of penetrating blue bioluminescent light. In the images above, I used a stylus to draw letters into this seawater which, because it harbours Pyrocystis, responds by lighting up with complex yet ephemeral trails of luminescence. As each of the many thousands of algal cells is propelled on to its own unique trajectory, it lights up and generates a meteor-like trail of blue light. With respect to our influence upon our own environment, our actions often have complex and unpredictable outcomes, and my letters, which are readable yet also complex and chaotic, become a metaphor for this. As a child might draw simple and naïve figures with a sparkler on Bonfire Night, I too have done so but with a type of natural light that might be perceived by the many life forms that inhabit our oceans and which will ultimately be affected by the influence of our actions upon it.
Introducing Stentor. Not unlike a circular saw
A treat for a grey Saturday. The majestic Paramecium caudatum. The Sperm Whale of the microbial world
Bacteria and microbes would have been the first living things to move, and thus in a sense, the first organisms to be able to to dance on planet Earth. I’m attempting some microbiological choreography. In the first instance, can I persuade microbes to move with purpose and in a coordinated manner. The answer seems to be yes. It’s more like a flash mob, rather than an elegant ballet at present, but in the videos above Euglena gracilis has moved in a deliberate manner to a source of stimulus which results in a seething mass of mircobial cells and areas distil to the stimulus being far less populated. It’s easy to see how the complex multicellular behaviour that we see in plants might have arisen.