Bacteria Never Looked So Beautiful

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Think of bacteria, and you probably think of illness, infection, and other unpleasantries. But this picture shows that they have a beautiful side after all.

A contender in the Art of Science competition run by Princeton University, this picture depicts how the bacteria Myxococcus xanthus moves over time. To create it, Mingzhai Sun and Joshua Shaevitz recorded the paths that M. xanthus — social bacteria that move in packs to hunt prey — took over the course of four hours.

Each strand shows the journey of a particular pack of bacteria, and the colour changes signify elapsed time — blue represents the start of the journey and red the end. You can see more competitiors in Princeton's Science as Art 2013 gallery. [Art of Science via New Scientist]

Image by Mingzhai Sun and Joshua Shaevitz/department of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics/Princeton University Art of Science Competition