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Art of Science 09

They Lie in Wait
They Lie in Wait

Zeiss LSM 700 Confocal Microscope

Katie Van Etten and Jessica Brinkworth

Jessica Brinkworth Laboratory

Funded by the NSF

Pathogens are a major factor affecting the evolution of primates. We know very little about how historical pandemics have affected the genomes of different populations. This image results from research that examines how genetic variation and historical exposure to one of the most virulent pathogens known in human history, the plague, has affected immune system evolution and human health.

In the center of this image we see human white blood cells (labeled blue) confronted with bacteria. To protect the body from this invader, the cells capture the bacteria by throwing nets made from their own DNA. The cells are laid over tracks that evoke those seen in bubble chambers, another innovation used by researchers to see into the smallest spaces and understand movement and action on the smallest scales.