Ballet Infusoria

Short videos to celebrate the International Year of Soils and World Soil Day (5th Dec). Microvideos (200x magnification, DIC Microscopy) of the protozoa in my SoilHack (they live naturally in soil but there numbers have been amplified).  These would normally move in a fast and unorganised manner and would be difficult to capture on video. Here, however,  I have used chemical attractants to choreograph these microscopic animalcules into gentle and organised ballet. The smaller dots are bacteria and the protozoa feed off these and leave empty trails behind them. I’m guessing that this might unique and possibly  be the smallest ballet ever.

The dancers here are not sentient, but their movements and responses derive from ingrained unconscious and molecular-based decisions, and via ancient mechanisms that form the basis of some of our own senses. Unlike cellular movement due to Brownian Motion, this dance is not random,  and reflects a microorganisms “decision” to move away from harm and towards a better life.

As a scientist I need a control experiment so amongst the videos below is a control (unchoreographed, no attractant) and the ballet (choreographed with a droplet of the chemical attractant in the centre). For best results run both videos at the same time.

The choreographed infusoria ballet (chemical attractant centre)

Unchoreographed (chemical attractant absent)




First Dance

I recently BioHacked a soil sample, by providing it with large quantities of nutrients in order to selectively amply the important  bacteria already present in it.  These are DIC micro videos of a minute droplet (around the size of the full stop at the end of this sentence) of the hacked soil.  This minute droplet contains a frenzy of bacterial activity and many kinds of purposeful movement. There are Spinners, Slow Moving Leviathans, Fast Moving Speedsters, Tumblers. Bacteria, like the ones seen here, would have been the first lifeforms on Earth to “dance”