Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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2020 Koch Institute Image Awards Microbial Multiverse

Studying the diversity and complexity of microbial communities

16 May 2020

Microbial Multiverse

Diversity is everywhere, from animal and plant populations down to the mix of microbes in a single glass of seawater. Each of these green blobs is a highly diverse microscopic community of bacteria grown from a single seawater sample, feeding on nutrient patches in the lab. Even though they all came from the same starting liquid, the individual colonies have gone their own way, each creating a distinctive pattern of growth. By using high-powered microscopy and genetic analysis to study these miniature ecosystems up close, researchers can start to unpick how individual groups of diverse bacteria interact with each other as their communities develop and grow. Understanding more about the rules governing the formation and evolution of these collectives could shed light on microbial societies in the wider world, including bacterial colonies that are important for the natural environment and those that may be harmful – or helpful – to human health.

Written by Kat Arney

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