Image of the Week: Psychedelic Bacterial Colonies

Image by Eshel Ben-Jacob/Tel Aviv University
Image by Eshel Ben-Jacob/Tel Aviv University

This beautiful image is of P. vortex, a bacteria species discovered in the ’90s by Eshel Ben-Jacob and his colleagues at the University of Tel Aviv. In an attempt to better understand the new species, Ben-Jacob tweaked various growth conditions, like temperature, light exposure, or nutrient consistency, and recorded the bacteria’s response. He soon found that the colony responded as a unit, resulting in distinctive patterns of movement and growth. Add a little dye, and boom – bacterial art.

Our favorite quote: “‘The bacteria have to maintain order, but they also have to maintain flexibility, so that when conditions change they can better adapt to the environment,’ says Ben-Jacob. ‘We have an affinity for things that have the combination of the two, order and disorder. If you analyze classical music, it is the same thing. The things that we really like and are captivated by are things that have this mixture.'”

 

To learn more and check out some of his other work, see here.