Living Lace: a textile that seeks its return to soil

Living Lace: before incubation

Living Lace: before incubation

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The unique patterned and spreading growth of the bacterium Bacillus mycoides

This cotton lace (please see image above) has been impregnated with spores of a bacterium called Bacillus mycoides (please see image above), that I isolated from the soil of my own garden in Hampshire. In doing this,  I have BioFunctionalised this material, that is, given it complex living functions far beyond that of ordinary cotton material.

In the image above (before incubation), it looks no different from cotton, but when it is cut and placed on a wet surfaces the bacterial spores germinate to form “intelligent” fibrils that explore the environment,  and  in a sense seek to repair the cotton, so that it becomes a living cotton/bacterial hybrid lace (please see images below taken after just 12 hours incubation at 25 C.

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From scientific research that we have done in my laboratory, I know that these fibrils are sensing their environment and responding to stress and tensions in the agar, and so their movements and the patterns that they make are informed by the pattern of the cotton itself.

I also get a very strong sense that the bacteria are actively seeking something and thus perhaps a return to the soil where both the and the cotton textile originally came.

 

 

 

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