Bacterial communities swarm into gorgeous works of art

This is a picture of a bacterial community, taken by Eshel Ben-Jacob, who thinks bacteria are both the key to understanding complex biological systems and a source of incredible art. These bacteria, discovered by Ben-Jacob's research team, self-organize into intricate and beautiful systems.

Bacteria are generally pictures swimming around by themselves, but they're not as solitary as they're made out to be. Many are quorum-sensing, meaning that when they detect a certain amount of them are present, they can build up into astounding complex communities.

Bacterial communities swarm into gorgeous works of art

Paenibacillus dendritiformis and the Paenibacillus vortex are two types of bacteria, both discovered by Eshel Ben-Jacob, a physicists-turned-biologist. They build up into massive colonies. The bacteria in each colony can exceed the number of people on Earth, so they make a bacterial super-city. Unlike most human cities, the bacteria can make beautiful structures as they grow their colony outward. Ben-Jacob takes pictures of those structures, tints them, and makes them into bacterial art.

Via Eshel Ben-Jacob.