Painting With Microbes: Matt Andrews F03 – Exponential Sunrise

Title: Exponential Sunrise

The intention here was to portray a sunrise over water, with the backdrop of the UAF. We live in an exponential world, whether it is as everyday as the light which lets us see, the sounds we hear, the technology which surrounds us, or even the dirt under our fingernails. The world is built on exponential growth and the education we are developing here at the UAF helps us to understand some small part of it.

I had created this scene on sever plates with Micrococcus luteus (for the golden sun and reflection) and Serratia marcescens (for the red water), I was hoping for a bit more color from the Serratia  but I am still happy with the overall effect.

Savanna’s Flower

Savanna Ratky F03

My artistic intent for this project was to make a flower out of microbes, I put micrococcus luteus in the center with the intent that it would turn yellow (it didn’t really), I put serratia marcescens for the petals because its supposed to be red/pink (also didn’t become pink), and I put citrobacter freundii for the little swirls around the flower with the intent that they would be white. This was on a TSA plate because the list of microbes with their colors are on TSA plates, so I chose this because I thought the colors would change to the colors on the list, the color of the plate didn’t really change and I didn’t expect it to.

Painting with Microbes

Samantha Smith F01

Just a wink and a nudge to my favorite book “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck. I have a a pretty cross stitch of this at home, which admittedly looks a lot better. Perhaps I will stick to my day job and leave the microbe painting to those more artistic than myself.

I used the Eosin Methylene Blue Agar plate for this painting, hoping to achieve a stark different in coloration from the two sources I chose. The lettering and the vine were done with Escherichia coli.  This bacteria is gram negative so is not inhibited by the eosin or methylene blue of the medium. It also produced a deep black color with a metallic green sheen as it ferments lactose with strongly acidic end products. (The green sheen is actually quite pretty, though you can’t tell from the photo). The filigree and leaves are colonies of  Enterobacter aerogenes  which is also gram negative. It produces a pink color because it does ferment lactose, but the end products of fermentation are much less acidic than that of  E. coli.

I would like to add that I had a lot of fun in this assignment and seeing the variety of agar art from the ASM Agar Art Contests.


Microbes Can Prevent Potholes…?

Article: “Scientists hope bacteria could be the cure for potholes” by Talia Kirkland

Source:  Fox News

Date Published: Feb. 5, 2019

Summary:   This article/news story explains how bacteria may be an answer to preventing potholes.   Scientists at Drexel University in Philadelphia have found that bacteria (they did not mention a specific species), when mixed with CO2 and calcium, can change the environment around them to self-produce limestone.   When spread out on a road, they can make the road material stronger and more able to withstand damage that would cause potholes.   The technique is not yet being used, but it may be an alternative for better roads in the future.

Connections:    This article relates to what we have been talking about in class because they are introducing CO2 and Ca2+ to the bacteria to (I assume) get them to use a specific metabolic pathway and get the desired product.

Critical Analysis:   I think it is really interesting that it only requires two simple ingredients (CO2 and Ca2+) to get these bacteria to produce limestone.   There may be other underlying factors that contribute to the production of the limestone, but the fact that they figured this out with these simple ingredients that are extremely common is pretty impressive.   The information seemed to be scientifically accurate since they actually interviewed the scientists who did the research; it makes the article a little more credible.   One thing that I found misleading, and a bit frustrating, was that within the article, they kept using the terms pavement and concrete interchangeably, but concrete and asphalt are different materials that are made in different ways.   I don’t know if they actually tested this bacteria mixture on actual roads or not, but I think there would be a difference if they tested them on concrete versus asphalt.   The scientist kept saying “concrete”, which leads me to believe that they experimented with concrete, which is not the same material that roads are usually made out of, as far as I know (I would be surprised if roads in Philadelphia are made out of concrete, although it is possible).   If that is the case, then this mixture may not actually work on pavement (asphalt) to fix potholes, as they are claiming.   It is also possible that they were actually working with pavement and are just using ‘concrete’ incorrectly, which would be confusing to people who know the difference between the two materials!   Other than that, I think the author did a really good job at keeping the information simple enough for any person to understand it.   I think someone who knows nothing about biology would still be able to follow along and understand what they are talking about.

Question:    The scientists say that the bacteria are changing the microenvironment around them to self-produce limestone, which made me wonder- are the bacteria that they are adding the ones who are actually producing the limestone?   If not, then what changes are they making that cause other organisms to produce limestone?

A2: Microbes in the News- Phytoplankton



This article explains that the World’s oceans are going to change color as a result of climate change. Researchers point out that the base of the food chain in the oceans is phytoplankton. With an increase in water temperature, the phytoplankton will die, resulting in an ocean that is not as green (as phytoplankton have green pigment from the chloroplasts). This article also explained that by using the color of the ocean one can deduce the population of phytoplankton, therefore getting more data on how global warming is affecting the world.


We have been learning in class the different properties of microorganisms. Right now we are learning how the metabolism works. By understanding this concept, I can use my knowledge to fully understand how an increase in temperature would affect the microorganism’s ability to acquire food and survive. Furthermore, we have been learning in class how different microorganisms can change the environment that they are in.

Critical Analysis

I found this story interesting because I liked the concept that you could tell the population of an organism, like phytoplankton, by looking at the color of the water. Although, I can see many variables in trying to actually test this idea. There are many things that can change the color of something, especially in the ocean, so I don’t see how they could do this. I think that this article did a fine job of relaying information to the general public so they could understand topics that they might not have any experience dealing with it. On the other hand, that means that this article most likely left out many concepts that the general public wouldn’t understand, but I would find interesting.


What is the main reason why an increase in temperature of a few degrees would kill phytoplankton?


A2 Microbes in the News (P.gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease)

Article and Link:

“We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s–and how to stop it’
By: Debora MacKenzie
Date: 24 January 2019


Researchers have found that the formation of amyloid and tau proteins which are signs of Alzheimer’s disease, may be a response to bacterial infiltration. One of the major risk factors of Alzheimer’s is the occurrence of gum disease caused by the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis.
They have found that P. gingivalis has been found to infect areas of the brain with Alzheimer’s lesions as well as exacerbating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in mice who have been infected with P. gingivalis as gum disease. Similarly healthy mice (who have not been engineered to have Alzheimer’s) who have been infected with gum disease and the bacteria P. gingivalis, exhibit amyloid plaques, and neural damage similar to that found in Alzheimer’s affected brains.
Enzymes which P. gingivalis uses to feed on human tissue, have been found in 96% of brains analyzed by Cortexyme and P. gingivalis proper has been found in several brains upon autopsy. Higher rate of these “feeding enzymes’ called gingipains have been higher in those with a greater cognitive decline before their death as well as greater amyloid and tau accumulations.
Cortexyme has developed a molecule with inhibits these gingipains and has shown to effectively halt P. gingivalis infection in mice including stopping amyloid production and reducing the associated brain inflammation.


                      I can see a connection with the research that they are doing with Koch’s postulates. Not only have they found the pathogen in unhealthy mice, but also upon injecting the pathogen into healthy mice, they receive the same symptoms. I don’t know their exact procedure, however that they are not only exploring what they are finding within the diseased subjects, but duplicating the symptoms in healthy subjects is similar to how they have been identifying pathogens using these postulates.

Critical Analysis

I am very interested in this news story, not only because the community is expanding their thinking on the amyloid and tau protein buildup (previously thought to build up due to cell component aging) being a response to something, rather than an inevitable state of neural tissue. I also like that it goes into light detail on the reasoning behind why they began the studies, what the studies are doing and what the future of the studies are going to be. Also, it is interesting that they have not only made this correlation, but that Cortexyme has already begun developing a vaccine and medications to stop the proliferation of P. gingivalis in the brain (which could also help with gum disease, but I really just love the brains).
As for the article, I think that it is a lot of information for one article but that it is very well put together in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. There are also links embedded within the article that reference journal articles for further reading, which is beneficial for those who would like a deeper understanding.


The main question that I have is one of correlation vs. causation. There is evidence form the research on healthy mice that the P. gingivalis causes the anomalies within the brain tissue, but they did not find evidence of the bacterium in all cases of Alzheimer’s that they studied. So my question is still the age old question: Is this THE cause of Alzheimer’s disease or is it A cause of Alzheimer’s disease? Does it simply exacerbate the disease or increase the rate at which the disease presents?


Samantha Smith

A2: Microbes in the News- Deep Sea Japan

Extreme Microbes Found in Crystals Buried 200 Feet Beneath the Sea of Japan


January 17, 2019.


Recently, In the depths of the ocean off the coast of Japan, with extremely cold temperatures and high pressure, microbes were discovered inside of small mineral grains sealed into crystals. These were discovered during an expedition sampling gas hydrates.

Its pretty incredible to find microbes in such extreme conditions such as this. In fact, we touched on the topic in class, they are often known as “Extremeophiles.” These are organisms that are able to live in otherwise uninhabitable environments.

I think its pretty neat that even though the researchers were originally searching for something else, they found this incredible discovery. Being from a pretty cool and efficiently sourced scientific website, I believe this article to be accurate. The microbes were effectively “sealed” into a environment perfect for them, within these crystals. No other organisms were introduced, this makes for a really incredible historical discovery as well, seeing as these organisms have been in a protected environment for hundreds if not thousands of years.

What I wanted to know, was could these organisms tell us a little about the past for sure? Being in an enclosed system, possibly could have halted any sort of evolution.