Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Tiny Dancers

Museum exhibit that gets humans dancing with microbes

16 November 2019

Tiny Dancers

Sweeping across lakes and seas around the world, Euglena are single-celled organisms that share similarities with both plants and animals, making them interesting to study. Here though it’s their dance moves on show. Euglena are light-sensitive – they swim away from blue-coloured light in a process known as phototaxis. Here researchers take advantage of this, magnifying a dish of Euglena onto a screen while projecting the nearby gyrating humans as tiny blue light silhouettes down into the dish. All of a sudden we have human/ Euglena dance partners, each reacting and responding to each other’s moves. As well as leaving visitors to this exhibit with fresh thoughts about what’s possible in biological research, the interactive technology could perhaps be modified to better understand more harmful light-responsive bacteria, all while friendly Euglena are being investigated as a potential food source, rich in omega-3 acid.

Written by John Ankers

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