Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your microbes!

Congrats to Margot P. our randomly drawn GIANTmicrobes winner. Margot, I’ll email you details.

Thanks to everyone for your fun and inspiring comments.

Below is my Valentine’s to all of you. An explanation of the glowing words are below the image.




One of the most amazing discoveries about bacteria in the last decade or so is quorum sensing. Dr. Bonnie Bassler discovered that many bacteria secrete special chemicals that help them determine how many other bacteria of the same species are around. When a certain number of bacteria (determined by the chemical concentration) are present – the “quorum” – then all of these bacteria turn on a different set of genes. In the case of some species of Vibrio, Pseudomonas, and Photobacterium the genes activated with quorum sensing are for bio-luminescence. THEY GLOW. Isn’t that awesome?  Dr. Bassler’s TED talk is below. As well as a great scientist, she’s a fabulous speaker.

I faked the quorum sensing plate above, but if you’d like to see some of the real glowing Valentine’s – check out Dr. Mark Martin’s blog. He and his undergraduate students do  a lot of fun projects like this at the University of Puget Sound.

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