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Art of Science image titled CHILD OF THE WIND
Child of the Wind

Scientist Collaborators Max Simon Glenn Fried

IGB Core Facilities

Zeiss Axiozoom V16 Microscope

Bacteria often face treacherous environments that can suddenly switch from a nurturing abode filled with water and nutrients to a dry wasteland devoid of any food. As if that wasn’t enough, their surroundings are rife with predators and other contenders that are also fighting for the same resources. Under such duress, some bacteria like Amycolatopsis tolypomycina, shown in the video, release antibiotics that get rid of the competition. This bacteria is not the only one in its family that can do interesting things. Some of its relatives can help clean up environmental pollutants and others can produce vanillin, the main chemical compound of vanilla beans.

In the looped video, the bacteria are growing and drying out on the microscope slide. This constant boom-bust cycle is representative of life: we should seize the new opportunities presented to us because the next challenge may be just around the corner.