SGU Science Picture of the Week: Biofilms
I love beautiful things that also become scary when you learn about them.
What you see here is a hand covered with Pseudomonas bacteria. It was created by Lydia-Marie Joubert, PhD, an electron microscopist and senior scientist st Stanford University. It won a People’s Choice Award in a 2013 science and engineering visualization contest, known as “SciVis”.
It was created when Joubert took a picture of the hand which is a 1.5 meter garden sculpture at Gregynog Hall in Wales. Over that image she laid micrographs of cultured biofilms.
Biofilms are communities of micro-organisms stuck together to form multiple layers that can cover a surface making it, well…slimy. The plaque on your teeth is a fine example.
It’s ok…I’ll wait while you go brush your teeth.
Joubert magnified this film 400 times after dying it with special molecular probes that colored them green if they are resistant to antimicrobial treatment and red if they were not. As you can see, the red ones are few and far between.
The purpose of the image is to show that even after years of using antibacterial agents like medicines, hand-soaps, sprays and phasers at full power, these common organisms are still with us in force. In fact, they are stronger than ever because we’ve actually pushed their evolution into over-drive with our fears and indiscriminate use of such weapons.
So the next time someone obsessively slathers themselves with antibacterial soap or takes antibiotics for viral infections, tell them to speak to the hand.
Here’s a higher res image of the hand.
Entry Form Details: http://nsf-scivis.skild.com/skild2/nsf2013/viewEntryDetail.action?pid=48954
Image Credit: Lydia-Marie Joubert, PhD,