While searching for news about microbes in the built environment I stumbled across these fascinating photographs (electron micrographs) of symbiotic termite gut microbes. Taken with a scanning electron microscope by Kevin J. Carpenter a biologist/microscopist/photographer (and fellow Davis alum!), they just finished an exhibit at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in January, after being displayed in the Exploratorium this past spring. To view more of the images check out the scientist/artist’s blog here and for more information check out his guest post on The Tree of Life Blog here or his post on the ASM blog, Small Things Considered (best blog name ever), here.
I particularly like these photographs because I feel they counteract the fear of microbes and culture of sterility that is currently prevalent. People fear what they can’t see or don’t understand and these photographs dispel some of the mystery that surrounds these microscopic creatures which inhabit all corners of the planet. In addition to the photographs, Kevin’s exhibits include information about the symbiotic relationship between the microbes and their host (termites). Hopefully the beauty of these pictures will replace some of the fear and negativity associated with microbes with curiosity and a sense of wonder.
Madison Dunitz is a recent graduate of UC Davis. She is currently working on projects concerning the microbiology of the built environment in Jonathan Eisen’s lab.