Mitosis

There are an estimated 37.2 trillion cells in the average adult human body. 37.2 trillion is a staggering number, especially when we remember that we all develop from a single fertilized egg cell. So how does one cell become 37.2 trillion cells? Through mitosis. Mitosis is the process of cell division, in which one cell produces two new daughter cells that are genetically identical to … Continue reading Mitosis

Mother’s Mitochondria

While celebrating Mother’s Day over brunch, don’t just thank your mom for all her love and nurture, remember to also mention mitochondria, like Leah Bury, our featured artist for June, suggests in her science-y Mother’s Day card. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells, which means they generate the energy that keeps cells (and by extension you) running. Interestingly, we inherit our mitochondria entirely from … Continue reading Mother’s Mitochondria

Bees

By carrying pollen from plant to plant in their quest for nectar, bees help to facilitate plant reproduction, giving bees an essential role in the sustainability of our agriculture.  Bee populations have been threatened over the last decade by a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, where the bees leave their hives and never return.  This year, however, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released positive … Continue reading Bees

Vines

Plants grow in interesting ways. You may have noticed that your houseplants “lean” towards the window, seeking the sunlight. This movement towards light is called phototropism. Tropism is a general term referring to any instance of growth or movement of an organism in response to the environment. Vines display another kind of tropism known as thigmotropism, meaning they respond to touch. In this set of … Continue reading Vines

Colonies 5

The colonies in this image display some of the diversity of pigment production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The blue-green colonies contain a pigment called pyocyanin, which is known to be toxic to human cells and helps the bacteria establish a niche during infections. The colonies containing a brown halo produce the brown pigment pyomelanin, which is thought to help the bacteria scavenge for iron, an essential … Continue reading Colonies 5

Colonies 4

To get around, Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium use a number of motility strategies, such as twitching and gliding. In this image, we see a special kind of bacterial motility behavior known as swarming, where a mass of bacteria moves collectively across a surface.  This is an example of singled celled bacterial species acting in a multicellular way. For a group of cells to swarm, the bacterium … Continue reading Colonies 4

Colonies 3

It may be hard to believe, but this sea of shiny, donut-shaped colonies are Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonies. These Pseudomonas colonies have a genetic mutation that causes many of the bacteria’s genes to be shut off. The donut-shape of these colonies may indicate a two-step growth phase where the younger cells on the outside edge of the colony grow towards more nutrients while the older cells in … Continue reading Colonies 3

Colonies 1 and 2

No one likes to be in crowded spaces, so when colonies reach a critical cell density, cells within the colony begin to lyse, dramatically changing the architecture of the colony. The colony on the left is a wild-type colony, while the colony on the right is a genetic mutant that exhibits an autolytic phenotype, that is the bacterium’s own enzymes “eat up” its cells. The … Continue reading Colonies 1 and 2

Colonies on a Plate

A single bacterial cell is invisible to the naked eye. As that single cell grows and divides into new cells, however, it forms a visible pile of bacteria. In microbiology, we call this pile of bacteria a colony. A colony’s appearance can indicate a lot about the bacterial cells within, such as how they utilize nutrients, if they carry genetic mutations, and how the bacterial … Continue reading Colonies on a Plate