A Microbial Zoo

Like Antony van Leeuwenhoek I’m observing the animcules found in a simple hay infusion and finding  great joy in the Earth’s  smallest creatures. He first discovered protozoans in his youth and  retained a child-like joy of discovery from his youth until his death at age 90. The ecology is evolving now with yeasts and many different types of motile bacteria. Magnification 1000x, DIC Microscopy.

CellF Portraits (Spit)

When we gob onto a pavement or sport’s field, how many of us ever consider the truly wonderful nature of saliva. Our saliva is 99.5% water, with the other 0.5% comprising electrolytes, mucus, glycoproteins, enzymes, antibacterial compounds such as lysozyme. Various enzymes naturally present in saliva initiate the  processes of digestion and begin to breakdown food. Saliva also serves  as a lubricant, wetting food and thus permitting swallowing, and  also protects the mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity from desiccation. It also bathes and nourishes the oral microbiome (that is the natural  bacterial microflora of the mouth).

I hope that the microvideos below give you an idea of the complexity and content of this bodily fluid.

A saliva sample viewed with a DIC Microscope (1000x). I think the large cell is a cell from my immune system. A large nuclues and a cytoplasm that fizzes with activity.

A valley formed by my cheek epithelial cells, and a raft of leucocytes fizzing with antibacterial intent. In the flow, are smaller cells, the various bacteria from my microbiome. 

Beneath the ‘sun” an epithelial cell with a visible nucleus, and underneath this is a leucocyte fizzing with antibacterial intent. In the flow, are smaller cells, the various bacteria from my microbiome.

War Games/Game Theory: Nine Species

The map before incubation

The map before incubation

The map after incubation

The map after incubation

The blue pigmented bacterium produces a powerful antibiotic that prevents its territory being infiltrated by purple and red

The blue pigmented bacterium produces a powerful antibiotic that prevents its territory being infiltrated by purple and red

Yellow has been infiltrated by purple

Yellow has been infiltrated by purple

Blue defends its territory via the production of a powerful antibiotic but pink (bottom left) has been infiltrated by purple.

Blue defends its territory via the production of a powerful antibiotic but pink (middle left) has been infiltrated by purple.

Day2. Red and purple continue to take territories. Pink, yellow and orange overtaken. Blue has produced an effective exclusion zone (through antibiotic production)

Day2. Red and purple continue to take territories. Pink, yellow and orange overtaken. Blue has produced an effective exclusion zone (through antibiotic production)

Day2. Pink and yellow have been invaded by purple and completely overtaken

Day2. Pink and yellow have been invaded by purple and completely overtaken

Day2. Blue has produced an effective and antibiotic-based exclusion zone, protecting it against red

Day2. Blue has produced an effective and antibiotic-based exclusion zone, protecting it against red

Day 2. Are yellow and orange combining their activities to produce an exclusion zone?

Day 2. Are yellow and orange combining their activities to produce an exclusion zone?

 

“the microscope discovers, what motions, what tumult, what wars, what pursuits, what stratagems”  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A new project inspired by the boardgames of my childhood, Risk, Campaign and Diplomacy,  and also the inherent properties of biology.  This is a coloured map on textile, but here and uniquely,  the paints are pigmented and living bacteria, which like the inanimate peices on a boardgame,  are capable of moving, killing and defending all to various degrees. The images here are of of the initial inoculation (each coloured patch represents a seperate bacterial species), and the map after incubation, and after its nature has been  changed dramatically as the bacteria became active, grew,  and interacted with each other.  The red and purple pigmented bacteria are agressive and spread to infiltrate certain other species. Blue adopts a defensive strategy and produces a powerful, and yet uncharacterized antibiotic,  that kills red and protects its own territory. I can’t help but feel that this map is a metaphor for our own species and wonder, as bacteria predated us in evolutionary terms, whether this activity is hardwired into our own biology.

War Games/Game Theory: Nine Species

Wargames

 

A new project inspired by the board games of my childhood, Risk, Campaign and Diplomacy and the inherent properties of biology.  This is a coloured map on textile but here and uniquely,  the paints are pigmented and living bacteria, which like the inanimate peices on a boardgame,  are capable of moving, killing and defending all to various degrees. This image is of the initial inoculation and hopefully the nature of the map will change dramatically as the bacteria become active, grow,  and begin to interact.  Each coloured patch represents a seperate bacterial species.

Bacteria in a Hay Infusion

Like Antony van Leeuwenhoek I’m observing the animcules found in a simple hay infusion and finding  great joy in the Earth’s  smallest creatures. He first discovered protozoans in his youth and  retained a child-like joy of discovery from his youth until his death at age 90. Mostly bacteria at the moment. Hoping that  some larger predatory protozoa will appear soon.