Posts Tagged ‘bacteria’


C-MOULD: living paints

July 9, 2013

C-MOULD, the world’s largest collection of microorganisms for use in the arts, with over 50 different kinds of microorganism. We have bacteria and fungi that glow in ethereal shades of green and blue light, bacteria that make gold and electrically conductive nanowires, and bacteria that produce biotextiles. We also possess the largest collection of pigmented bacteria. Here is the palette of living colours that is available through C-MOULD. Behind the obvious colour, each bacterium has its own unique personality and history (see below) and when used in paintings each one adds it own character to the work. Text and image via Exploring The Invisible. Continue THERE for more info.


The Great Work of the Metal Lover: A strain of bacteria that POOPS GOLD

June 13, 2013

Historically, Magnum Opus, or The Great Work, was an alchemical process that incorporated a personal, spiritual and chemical method for creating the Philosopher’s Stone, a mysterious red colored substance that was capable of transmuting base matter into the noble metal of gold. Discovering the principals of the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the defining and at the same time seemingly unobtainable objectives of Western alchemy.

The Great Work of the Metal Lover is an artwork that sits at the intersection of art, science and alchemy, re-examining the problem of transmutation through the use of modern microbiological practice and thus solving the ancient riddle.

Gold production is accomplished by the pairing of a highly specialized metallotolerant extremophilic bacterium and an engineered atmosphere contained within a customized alchemical bioreactor. The extreme minimal ecosystem within the bioreactor forces the bacteria to metabolize high concentrations of toxic AuCl3 (gold chloride), turning soluble gold into usable 24K gold.

All text and Images via Adam Brown. Continue THERE


Genetically modified bacteria and yeast can make gold, pharmaceutical compounds and fuels.

March 29, 2013

When Michigan State University artist Adam Brown learned of a type of bacteria, Cupriavidus metallidurans, that can extract pure gold from the toxic solution gold chloride (a totally artificial salt), he hurried to an expert colleague, microbiologist Kazem Kashefi, with a question: “Is it possible to make enough gold to put in the palm of my hand?” Brown merely wanted to satisfy his intellectual and artistic curiosity, inspired by the gold-tinted roots of alchemy, the precursor of modern chemistry.

Soon thereafter, Kashefi and Brown set to work designing a half-experiment, half-art-exhibit that exposes C. metallidurans to gold chloride in a hydrogen-gas-rich atmosphere that serves as a source of food. Over the course of a week, the bacteria gradually strip-mined the toxic liquid, leaving flecks of pure 24-karat gold behind.

The inefficient technique won’t supplant traditional mining, but the idea of using microbes as production facilities for a range of rare and difficult-to-produce materials has been gaining traction over the past several years.

Excerpt from an article written by Gregory Mone at Discover. Continue HERE

Escherichia coli. Science Photo Library/Pennsylvania State University


Germs Are Us: Bacteria make us sick and also keep us alive

January 8, 2013

Helicobacter pylori may be the most successful pathogen in human history. While not as deadly as the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, cholera, and the plague, it infects more people than all the others combined. H. pylori, which migrated out of Africa along with our ancestors, has been intertwined with our species for at least two hundred thousand years. Although the bacterium occupies half the stomachs on earth, its role in our lives was never clear. Then, in 1982, to the astonishment of the medical world, two scientists, Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren, discovered that H. pylori is the principal cause of gastritis and peptic ulcers; it has since been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer as well. Until that discovery, for which the men shared a Nobel Prize, in 2005, stress, not an infection, was assumed to be the major cause of peptic ulcers.

H. pylori is shaped like a corkscrew and is three microns long. (A grain of sand is about three hundred microns.) It is also one of the rare microbes that live comfortably in the brutally acidic surroundings of the stomach. Doctors realized that antibiotics could rid the body of the bacterium and cure the disease; treating ulcers this way has been so successful that there have been periodic discussions of trying to eradicate H. pylori altogether. The consensus was clear; as one prominent gastroenterologist wrote in 1997, “The only good Helicobacter pylori is a dead Helicobacter pylori.” Eradication proved complicated and expensive, however, and the effort never gained momentum. Yet few scientists questioned the goal. “Helicobacter was a cause of cancer and of ulcers,’’ Martin J. Blaser, the chairman of the Department of Medicine and a professor of microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine, told me recently. “It was bad for us. So the idea was to get it out of our bodies, as fast as we can. I don’t know of anyone who said, Gee, we better think about the consequences.”

Excerpt from an article written by Michael Specter at The New Yorker. Continue HERE. Image Via


The human microbiome: Looking at human beings as ecosystems

August 30, 2012

WHAT’S a man? Or, indeed, a woman? Biologically, the answer might seem obvious. A human being is an individual who has grown from a fertilised egg which contained genes from both father and mother. A growing band of biologists, however, think this definition incomplete. They see people not just as individuals, but also as ecosystems. In their view, the descendant of the fertilised egg is merely one component of the system. The others are trillions of bacteria, each equally an individual, which are found in a person’s gut, his mouth, his scalp, his skin and all of the crevices and orifices that subtend from his body’s surface.

A healthy adult human harbours some 100 trillion bacteria in his gut alone. That is ten times as many bacterial cells as he has cells descended from the sperm and egg of his parents. These bugs, moreover, are diverse. Egg and sperm provide about 23,000 different genes. The microbiome, as the body’s commensal bacteria are collectively known, is reckoned to have around 3m. Admittedly, many of those millions are variations on common themes, but equally many are not, and even the number of those that are adds something to the body’s genetic mix.

Excerpt of a text via The Economist. Continue HERE


Played By Humans, Scored By Nature. EteRNA, an online game, helps build a new RNA warehouse

August 29, 2012

According to EteRNA: By playing EteRNA, you will participate in creating the first large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs. Your efforts will help reveal new principles for designing RNA-based switches and nanomachines — new systems for seeking and eventually controlling living cells and disease-causing viruses. By interacting with thousands of players and learning from real experimental feedback, you will be pioneering a completely new way to do science. Join the global laboratory!

EteRNA is starting with simple shapes like “the finger” and “the cross” to make sure you can nail the fundamentals. And then we’ll be moving on to elaborate shapes like trees. And then molecules that switch folds when they sense a specific other piece of RNA. This might take a few weeks, or it might take a year — we want to make sure we can ace these exercises.
After that, we will embark on one of a few epic projects – perhaps we’ll make the first RNA random-access memory for a computer. Or switches that enables cells to fluoresce if they start expressing cancer genes. Or how about a nanomotor? Or a nanoLED display? There are lots of options, and we’ll let you propose your own and choose.

Finally, you’ll start seeing a few other kinds of puzzles popping up in later stages: The ability to play with RNAs in three dimensions. The ability to see natural RNAs from bacteria, viruses, and humans; and challenges to predict their properties. Stay tuned.

Play EteRNA


The Purest Water of Them All

August 2, 2012

“When you taste something, you’re comparing the taste of that water to the saliva in your mouth,” says Gary Burlingame, who supervises water quality for the Philadelphia Water Department. “The saliva in your mouth is salty.”

Salty saliva bathes your tongue, drenching every one of your thousands of taste buds. It protects you from nasty bacteria, moistens your food, helps you pronounce the word “stalactite” and even lets you know when you might be drinking something bad for you. Like water.

Excerpt from an article written by Kelly Izlar, Scientific American. Continue HERE