Animalcule Choreography

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.

 

Grow Your Own Home: with Gluconoacetobacter xylinus

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A short time ago C-MOULD the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in art and design acquired  two strains of Gluconoacetobacter xylinus, which produce  cellulose nanofibres when grown with sugar. These are microscopic images of the bacteria and clearly show the bacterial cells amongst deposits and fibrils of cellulose.  It’s an intriguingly tough yet flexible living material and by growing the bacteria together with sand I’m hoping to grow my own house.

Pyrocystis: Painting With Biological Light

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Pyrocystis fusiformis is a large marine bioluminescent algae. When it is disturbed,  it produces a flash of stiking blue bioluminescent light.  In the still images and video above, I have poured some of the culture into a shallow Petri dish and then used a stylus to make paint-like strokes in the liquid media. Captured by the camera, the results are fleeting paintings where the individual trajectories of single cells of the algae can be seen. It’s as if the stylus has become a magical wand that sparkles with the raw energy of our seas. The colour and quality of the light reminds me of Cherenkow Radiation.

Pyrocystis: Recording Light

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

Agitation with a stylus

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

A single Pyrocystis cell, 200x magnification, DIC microscopy

Pyrocystis fusiformis is a large marine bioluminescent algae. Under the microscope at 100 or 200x magnification it is an elegant microbe (see images above). When it is disturbed,  it produces a flash of stiking blue bioluminescent light. In the above video a culture of this microbe is stimulated to continually produce light by a rotating magnetic stirrer. In the still images above, I have poured some of the culture into a shallow Petri dish and then used a stylus to make paint-like strokes in the liquid media. Captured by the camera, the results are fleeting paintings where the individual trajectories of single cells of the algae can be seen. It’s as if the stylus has become a  magical wand that sparkles with a marine magic.