A flower that looks like any other flower in daylight, but turn off the lights and its unique engineered bioluminescent light guides become visible. Specialized cell structures on the flower called lumocysts express the luxABCDE genes from the bioluminescent bacterium Photobacterium phosphoreum giving the flower tissue the ability to make light. The quality of the light produced by these bacteria, and now the plant, is unique and it has powerful lure-like qualities so that when bees become extinct, the plants will attract and be pollinated by night-flying insects like moths. Night feeding carnivorous plants might also be developed though this technology.
Ascorbate (or vitamin C) crystallization as seen under the Differential Interference Contrast microscope.
The bacterium Agrobacterium tumifaciens is a sophisticated plant pathogen causing gall-like tumours in its hosts. Upon infection, it introduces a small section of its own DNA (called T-DNA) into the host plant’s genome and this results in the formation of a plant tumour. The T-DNA carries genes for the production of plant hormones (auxin and cytokinins) thus altering the hormonal balance in the plant cell so that its division is no longer controlled and tumours form. In addition, the inserted bacterial DNA also reprograms the plant to make chemicals called opines, which the bacteria then use as a source of nutrition.
By infecting carrot slices with these tumourogenic bacteria, I have generated an immortal and undifferentiated type of carrot tissue that uniquely produces opines. I have now made a soup with these cells, harvested from many infected carrot slices, and I’m pleased to report that it tastes divine, with the bacterial opines producing a stunning and unique flavour.
This is the starting point for some further explorations in which it might be possible to clone in various flavour pathways into the carrot cells, so that one could directly grow carrot soup in the lab (with onion or coriander flavour pathways engineered into it) without ever having to resort to soil grown a carrot, onion or herb.
Many microorganisms when viewed down a microscope move with apparent purpose and towards common goals. The organisms, however, are fast moving and this makes the use of video difficult when tracking or recording their activity. In this experiment I used neutral density filters, to allow the setting of very long shutter speeds to record the movement of the animalcule Euglena. What can be seen in the resulting images, are not the microscopic cells themselves, but the tracks that they make by their movement during the long photographic exposure. The process is much like that used by Yuki Karo in her work with fireflies but the creatures in my photographs are many thousands of times smaller. The technique reveals the fenzy microbial of activity in a small drop of water.