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.

6 thoughts on “Pyrocystis: Recording Light

  1. Very nice pics!!! may I ask which camera setup did you use to capture the low light intensity phenomenon? was it with an intensified camera?

  2. Dear Simon,
    I’m writing for permission to reproduce your image https://exploringtheinvisible.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dsc_0489.jpg of Pyrocystis fusiformis in a book chapter titled “Marine Microbiopolitics: Haunted Microbes Before the Law” to appear in an edited volume title “Blue Legalities” to appear with Duke University Press.
    Please let me know if you’d the permission,
    thanks a lot,
    Astrid

    PS: what a wonderful site this is

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