A colony of microbes plus a cadre of fluorescent dyes created this cloud of multicolored flecks, which Tao Li viewed under a confocal laser microscope. Li, a doctoral student in Xiao-Li Yang’s lab at Southeast University in China, was using this image to analyze the makeup of the microbes’ biofilm, the sticky matrix that bacteria build around their colony. The dyes colored the proteins in the biofilm green, the α-polysaccharides red, and the β-polysaccharides blue. Li was trying to influence the colony to grow the right type of biofilm so that he could use them in a microbial fuel cell, a system that siphons electrical energy off bacteria.
Submitted by Tao Li/Southeast University
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