Inspecting growing samples, tasting yogurt and kombucha

Human microbiota

“I love the fact that human genomes can be found in only about 10 percent of all the cells that occupy the mundane space I call my body; the other 90 percent of the cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria, fungi, protists, and such, some of which play in a symphony necessary to my being alive at all, and some of which are hitching a ride and doing the rest of me, of us, no harm.” — Donna Haraway

"Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival." (NIH 2012)

"The human body contains trillions of microorganisms­outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass (in a 200­pound adult, that's 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health." (NIH 2012)

"Where doctors had previously isolated only a few hundred bacterial species from the body, HMP researchers now calculate that more than 10,000 microbial species occupy the human ecosystem." (NIH 2012)

“During the course of the evolution of mitosis, photosynthetic plastids (themselves derived from prokaryotes) were symbiotically acquired by some of these protozoans to form the eukaryotie algae and the green plants.” (Margulis 1966)

“Symbiogenesis, or endosymbiotic theory, is an evolutionary theory that explains the origin of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotes (1.5 billion years ago). It states that several key organelles of eukaryotes originated as a symbiosis between separate single-celled organisms (Lynn Margulis theory)” (Haraway 2008)

“Species interdependence is the name of the worlding game on earth, and that game must be one of response and respect. That is the play of companion species learning to pay attention. Not much is excluded from the needed play, not technologies, commerce, organisms, landscapes, peoples, practices.” (Haraway 2008)

“Organisms are ecosystems of genomes, consortia, communities, partly digested dinners, mortal boundary formations.” (Haraway 2008)

“Because I become with dogs, I am drawn into the multispecies knots that they are tied into and that they retie by their reciprocal action. My premise is that touch ramifies and shapes accountability.” (Haraway 2008)

Chthulucene

Chthulucene is a multispecies assemblages that include people within past, present, and future. The idea of Haraway is that Anthropocene marks rather a boundary and not an epoch as widely accepted.

“Of course, from the start the greatest planetary terraformers (and reformers) of all have been and still are bacteria and their kin, also in inter/intra-action of myriad kinds (including with people and their practices, technological and otherwise).” (Haraway 2015)

“Kin is an assembling sort of word. All critters share a common “flesh,” laterally, semiotically, and genealogically.” (Haraway 2015)

Projects

François-Joseph Lapointe

1000 Handshakes, performance, https://www.google.de/search?q=Fran%C3%A7ois-Joseph+Lapointe+1000+handshakes&tbm=isch

François-Joseph Lapointe sequences his microbiome to produce metagenomic self-portraits called Microbiome Selfies, which illustrate the metamorphosis of his bacterial self. For the performance 1000 Handshakes at transmediale 2015, Lapointe shaked hands with visitors to the opening night of transmediale, gradually changing the invisible microbial community in the palm of his hand. Periodically, assistants took a sample from his skin. The DNA of this microbiome was analyzed to reveal how our contact with others changes who we are.

julia lohmann

Co-Existence, 2009, 9000 Petri-dishes with images of bacteria colonies, perspex, lighting, http://www.julialohmann.co.uk/work/gallery/co-existence-wellcome-trust/

"Inspired by the unseen universe of microbes that inhabit our bodies, Julia Lohmann has produced pixellated images of colonies of the most common species, which appear in the bases of the petri dishes. The positioning of each microbe within the artwork shows the part of the body in which it most commonly lives."

"The choice of female form reflects centuries of art history, as well as the fact that women generally support a greater variety of microorganisms than men."

Anna Dumitriu

Communicating Bacteria, http://annadumitriu.tumblr.com/CommunicatingBacteria

“Central to the installation is a stunning antique Edwardian whitework dress, with Dumitriu’s additional stitching and a purple pattern created by the process of bacterial communication. The dress was laid out on a one metre square agar plate (a makeshift Petri dish from a DIY centre normally used for mixing concrete and sterilised with ethanol) and inoculated with CV026 and left to grow, be absorbed into the fibres and travel along the fine stitches. After a day or so of incubation the white CV026 was exposed to the Chromobacterium violaceum and the communication signal travelled across the fabric as the white bacteria turned purple.”

“Bacteria have intricate communication capabilities, for example: quorum sensing (voting on issues affecting the colony and signaling their presence to other bacteria); chemotactic signalling (detecting harmful or favourable substances in the environment); and plasmid exchange (e.g. for transfer of antibiotic resistance genes). This is now being investigated as a form of social intelligence as it is realized that these so called ‘simplest’ of life forms can work collectively, obtain information about their environment (and other cells) and use that information in a ‘meaningful’ way. Using signalling chemicals such as Homoserine Lactone, the bacteria pass on messages to nearby cells, which can be either part of their colony or other living cells (including eukaryotic and plant cells).”

Super-Organism The Living Microbiome, https://vimeo.com/110165929

"This video installation juxtaposes close-up high definition macroscopic video footage of the growth of colonies of bacteria with images of the parts of the human body from which they were sampled. The piece shows the huge diversity of ways in which these bacteria grow and spread across a Petri dish filled with agar jelly (a seaweed based growth medium) and how they compete for ‘territory’, sometimes producing their own antibiotics to ward of other bacteria or producing biofilms which help them to spread."

Alison Kudla

Collaborating with the Microbiome, http://www.allisonx.com/project/microbiome

"The overarching goals of the project are to create discussion about the microbiomes around us and raise questions about the new research and technologies that may come from recent initiatives to study them. We hope to: reflect on the importance of microbes to ourselves and the planet, consider the impact of globalization on microbes, bring to the surface a range of human characteristics such as self-preservation, self-sabotage, a desire for shortcuts and quick fixes, etc., and in doing so, question the common paradigms and technologies humans use to perceive ourselves in relation to other living things."

Joana Ricou

Other selves, exploring the human microbiome, http://www.joanaricou.com/microbiomeprocess

"We are made of many things, and many types of things. Most of these things are alive, and not human. Our human and non-human selves coexist, collaborate, compete or ignore each other. .. In this series, I explore the human microbiome as another self or as a multiplicity of other selves. .. I was originally interested in two ideas: one, that the human body was such an extraordinarily rich environment that entirely distinct populations of microbes existed in different places and two, that the microbiome was generally derived from our environment."

Isolation of Gluconacetobacter xylinus

We will try isolating Gluconacetobacter xylinus, anaerobic bacteria that ferments alcohols and produces cellulose.

  • anahatabalance (2007)
  • openwetware (2015)
  • Kulkarni, P.K., Anil Dixit, S., Singh, U.B. (2012)

Media

Preparation of Acetobacter Media (http://openwetware.org/wiki/Acetobacter_Xylinum_Culture)

To prepare ∼500 ml of liquid Acetobacter media, add the following:

  • Glucose - 10 g
  • Peptone - 2.5 g
  • Yeast extract - 2.5 g
  • Na2HPO4 - 1.35 g
  • Citric acid - 0.75 g
  • Distilled water - 500 ml
  • If you are making plates, use the same protocol but add 7.5 g of agar.

Gallery

References