Chimileski and Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School, Boston
In nature, there is strength in
numbers. Sometimes, those numbers also have their own unique beauty. That’s the
story behind this image showing an intricate colony of millions of the single-celled
a common culprit in the more than 700,000 hospital-acquired infections
estimated to occur annually in the United States. . The bacteria have
self-organized into a sticky, mat-like colony called a biofilm, which allows
them to cooperate with each other, adapt to changes in their environment, and
ensure their survival.
In this image, thePseudomonasbiofilm
has grown in a laboratory dish to about the size of a dime. Together, the
millions of independent bacterial cells have created a tough extracellular
matrix of secreted proteins, polysaccharide sugars, and even DNA that holds the
biofilm together, stained in red. The darkened areas at the center come from
the bacteria’s natural pigments.