Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A maze ing

More of the triangular Park-Serratia-Roberts collaboration. Such fun!

For the benefit of my dear fellow paint-nerds, the stripes from top to bottom go:

Serratia marcescens (bacteria)
Chromium Oxide Green
Cobalt Violet
Zinc White
Phthalo Green
Phthalo Blue
Cadmium Yellow hue (actually diarylide yellows, why don't they just say that? )
Chromobacterium violaceum (bacteria)

I put the paints I thought would be the most repulsive to my bacterial friends near the top to give the purple bacteria—which I've found to be a bit slower off the mark—a fighting chance. But no! I read that the green (Cr2O3) is mutagenic to bacteria and used medicinally as an anti-infective agent. But my Serratia have just been revelling in it. Partying like it was 1999. And then, some of my bacteria-friendly paints seem to have come ready-populated.

But I love how the red guys seem to have magically jumped over the nasty purple-white space into their green comfort zone. Simon reckons they "probably snook down the side between the agar and the petri dish, clever chaps."

I know they operate by chemotaxis but I'm fascinated by the scale of their sensing abilities. If you are only 2μm long, that thing a centimetre away is far far away. I'm jealous. It's as if I, starting at the bottom of Leith Walk, could simply sniff the air and realise that the Royal Mile has nothing to offer me and I'd have much more fun taking a detour via Arthur's Seat. Without ever having been to any of those places. If only my visitors could do that...

photos: Dr. Simon Park, Sarah Roberts.

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