Prokarylon: a biotextile made from auto-woven bacterial microfibres

 

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Bacteria have been used previously to produce clothing and couture, and the materials used for this derive from polymers and extracellular compounds produced by them. Prokarylon is a unique biotextile formed directly  from  auto-woven fibrils of the bacteria themselves and as such  the first fabric to be made from bacterial peptidoglycan.  I’m hoping to make a kind of bacterial lace from this material where antibiotics produce the holes and designs.

Some Observations on the Transformation of Self

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Traditionally what we consider to be “self” is usually restricted to the collection of 10 trillion or so eukaryote cells that derive directly from our own genomes. However, the “omic” technologies of the 21st century are radically redefining this view, so that “self” can now be seen to extend beyond the traditional precinct of our visible form, and to include our resident bacterial community.  In fact, these normally invisible cells outnumber what we consider to be our own cells, by a factor of ten and contain at least ten times more DNA than our own genome. Recent studies have suggested that our personal bacterial flora, or microbiome, can influence our predisposition to gain or lose body weight, and even our moods and ability to learn. To explore the issues of identity that these new findings raise, I have taken samples from my own microbiome and cultured them using my own blood. In the growth media that I use, the only source of nutrition for the bacteria is my blood so to grow, they have to partly dissassemble my own chemistry and restructure it into their own cells. The resulting, and extraordinary forms, are derived from both my eurkayotic self and  prokaryotic self, and so blur the boundaries of my own identity, and what makes me human.

The Extended Self II: the microbiology of celebrity

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Traditionally what we consider to be “self” is usually restricted to the collection of 10 trillion or so eukaryote cells that derive directly from our own genomes. However, the “omic” technologies of the 21st century are radically redefining this view, so that “self” can now be seen to extend beyond the traditional precinct of our visible form, and to include our resident bacterial community.  In fact, these normally invisible cells outnumber what we consider to be our own cells, by a factor of ten and contain at least ten times more DNA than our own genome.  The bacteria that reside on or in our bodies are not merely present as passengers, but they empower us with metabolic functions far beyond the range of our own physiological capabilities. They may even be able to influence our emotions. In this respect, the human body can now be considered to be a superorganism, that is, a “communal group of human and microbial cells (the bacterial symbiont) all working for the benefit of the collective”. These are complex bacterial communities isolated from widely known celebrities to highlight the fact, that at this funadamental level, and irrespective of race or creed, we are all the same.  

A Differential Mycobacterial Textile Dye: tests for TB Tartan

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Mycobacteria are an important group of bacteria which includes pathogens known to cause serious diseases in humans, including tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae). All members of this group have an unusual, waxy coating which makes them impervious to traditional staining techniques. Moreover, this characteristic cell wall, which is thick, hydrophobic, and also waxy in nature, gives this group of bacteria many characteristics that resist medical treatment.

The mycobacteria resist staining by ordinary methods, such as the Gram stain, because of this waxy layer. However, the Ziehl–Neelsen stain, also known as the acid-fast stain,  is a specially developed  stain that can be used on these  bacteria. Here I have used this stain to produce a fabric design on a textile inoculated with a “cross” of Mycobacterium. The first stain component carbol fuchsin stains both the bacteria and material but when this is destained with  acid-alcohol, the textile loses the dye but the acid-fast bacteria, because of their  thick and waxy lipid layer retain the first red dye. When the counter stain is applied, the non-acid-fast material stains blue and the acid-fast bacteria retain the carbol fuchsin and appear red.

C-MOULD HIGHLIGHTS: C-MOULD’S MOULDS

Clock Fungus. An unidentified mould that has a biological clock and much like the growth rings on a tree, can act as a clock.

Clock Fungus. An unidentified mould that has a biological clock and much like the growth rings on a tree, can act as a clock.

Penicillium camembertii. Isolated from Camembert. Forms a dense and lush mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture and would produce a fabulous coat.

Penicillium camembertii. Isolated from Camembert. Forms a dense and lush mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture and would produce a fabulous coat.

Penicillium camembertii. Isolated from Brie. Forms a dense and lush mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture and would produce a fabulous coat.

Penicillium camembertii. Isolated from Brie. Forms a dense and lush mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture and would produce a fabulous coat.

Penicillium roquefortii (Roqueforte). Isolated from Roquefort and forms a hydrophobic mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture

Penicillium roquefortii (Roqueforte). Isolated from Roquefort and forms a hydrophobic mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture

Penicillium roquefortii (Stilton). Isolated from Blue Stilton and forms a hydrophobic mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture

Penicillium roquefortii (Stilton). Isolated from Blue Stilton and forms a hydrophobic mat when grown on milk. Could be used in MycoCouture

Panellus stipticus. A bioluminescent fungus that emits a green light.

Panellus stipticus. A bioluminescent fungus that emits a green light.

C-MOULD is a unique collection of microorganisms for use in art and design. This is the 2nd in a series of posts that highlight some of its acquisitions. Whilst the collection also features many bacteria, this post draws attention to some of it fungi/moulds.