A Microbial Work of Art
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are too small to see in detail without the aid of a microscope. So you might not think that zooming in on a batch of bacteria would provide the inspiration for a museum-worthy sculpture.
But, in fact, that’s exactly what you see in the image. Researchers grew in a lab dish Bacillus licheniformis, a usually benign bacterium from the soil that produces an enzyme used in laundry detergent. The bacteria self-organized into a sand dollar-like pattern to form a cohesive structure called a biofilm. The researchers then took a 3D scan of the living bacterial colony in the lab and used it to print this stainless steel sculpture at 12 times the dime-sized biofilm.