Oct 6, 2010

Microbial pigments: an untapped resource for teachers, artists and researchers

Elvis Lives! - painted on agar media using the bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor
The journal PLoS Biology has launched a new series of articles on education "to present innovative approaches to teaching critical concepts, developments, and methods in biology." The title of the first article in the series is In Living Color: Bacterial Pigments as an Untapped Resource in the Classroom and Beyond.

From the article:

"Soil bacteria from the Streptomyces genus represent a source of interesting natural products that have been largely overlooked by artists, researchers, and teachers. This article is intended to encourage amateurs and professionals alike to explore this overflowing source of biopigments. Not only does this endeavor have the potential to lead us toward a fertile nexus between art and science, it may also lead to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to color the world around us in the future. The relevance of biopigments to many facets of science, technology, and society, makes this material an outstanding tool to engage students of varying academic interests across multiple age groups. Therefore, we encourage teachers of all levels to consider using biopigments as a vehicle to introduce the scientific method to their students. To facilitate the implementation of biopigments into science and art curricula, we have provided a list of useful online resources and information about procuring materials [...] as well as recommend ways to evaluate the effectiveness of the lesson [...]."

Original article (and image source):
Charkoudian LK, Fitzgerald JT, Khosla C, Champlin A (2010) In Living Color: Bacterial Pigments as an Untapped Resource in the Classroom and Beyond. PLoS Biol 8(10): e1000510. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000510
Image: “Elvis Lives!” painted on agar media plates using the bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor.

Related links:
- Microbial Art, a collection of unique artworks created using living bacteria, fungi, and protists.
- Painting With Penicillin: Alexander Fleming's Germ Art. The scientist created works of art using microbes, but did his artwork help lead him to his greatest discovery? By Rob Dunn. Smithsonian.com, July 12, 2010.
- Streptomyces: they're twisted! Twisted Bacteria, Aug 10, 2007.

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Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, blog posts by Cesar Sanchez in Twisted Bacteria are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Please let me know if any quotes or images on this blog are improperly credited. E-mail: TwistedBacteria AT gmail DOT com . Social media icons by Oliver Twardowski and AddThis.