Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Luxmas 2015!

Well, as most people know, I am something of a #MicrobialSupremacist™.  That is just how I roll, microbially speaking.

So my holidays are required to revolve around microbiology.  And this is a good thing, not a "yuck" thing.

For example, I love teaching my micronauts that bacteria can make ice form.  Yes!  Pseudomonas syringae makes a protein on its surface called (rather uncreatively) the ice nucleation protein.  Ice nucleation protein, as its name suggests, catalyzes ice crystal formation in a chain reaction.  I have written about this before, with many informative references.

This video (from my Fall 2015 Microbiology course at the University of Puget Sound) shows supercooled deionized water. One drop of Pseudomonas syringae and...well, see for yourself.

This protein is used in snowmaking machines, by the way, and is commercially called Snowmax.  So yes:  you are skiing the microbial slopes, friends!

I also enjoy using reporter gene fusions in E. coli to create colorful displays.  I used GFP and RFP to draw this festive bit of Petri dish art.

Now, again, anyone who knows me understands I have a mania for bioluminescence.  So I naturally have created some Luxmas™ (lux for light production) displays on Petri dishes, using Photobacterium leignothi as "living paint."

Finally, my brilliant and artistic mathematician wife Dr. Jennifer J. Quinn (that's right:  I am married to "Dr. Quinn, Mathematics Woman") is SO tolerant of my microbiological mania.  She allowed me to put up a microbial Luxmas tree year round.  Here it is tonight.  It is festooned with a blazing Shewanella from the Mudwatt people, has various GiantMicrobes on it, and features beautiful Petri dish ornaments from the fabulous artist Michele Banks.

And here is my Luxmas Tree with bioluminescent ornaments.

Finally, Dr. Quinn helped me to create this wonderful time-lapse video a few years ago.  I adore it.

Thus, I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Luxmas, with much microbiological merriment.  I salute you and your microbiota!

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I am happy to hear your comments and suggestions. I hope to avoid spammage. We shall see how that works out!