Glass microbiology sculptures unveiled at Microgenetics HQ

20 April 2018

We have been privileged to unveil four glass microbe sculptures in our Microgenetics HQ reception. These beautiful sculptures were created for us by artist Luke Jerram as part of this ‘Glass Microbiology’ project.

At Microgenetics our days are spent researching and discovering innovative ways of making visible these invisible enemies of the sectors we serve. Our passion and aim is to revolutionise microbiology and we do this by being able to identify the presence of contaminants where no others have yet been able to do so.

The sculptures are a daily reminder of the challenge we have set ourselves. We are striving to make the presence of these organisms visible, a lot quicker than the current culture methods allow, thus supporting our customers in their constant battle to eliminate contamination from their products.

We think micro-organisms are fascinating and beautiful and these sculptures, while representing an artist’s impression, show how complex and varied micro-organisms can be. To move in or out of the building, is to now to be reminded of this.

We are quite literally placing them on a pedestal to force us to respect their beauty and complexity and to remind us of the challenges we are helping our customers overcome.

– Tammy Hassel, Director at Microgenetics

About the artist

Luke Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. Luke Jerram’s practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, and live arts projects. He is the Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at the University of Bristol. Further information on Jerram’s entire practice can be found at lukejerram.com.

About the micro-organisms

Micrococcus luteus

First discovered by Alexander Fleming (who discovered the antibiotic penicillin).

The term Micrococcus is derived from Greek: “mikros” meaning “small”, “kokkos” meaning “grain/seed” and luteus comes from Latin, and means “golden yellow”, which is the colour of this bug when grown in the lab.

Why is this bacteria important in a cleanroom setting?

In patients with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy, Micrococcus luteus can cause infections such as septic shock, meningitis and pneumonia.

It can be found living on human skin and in dust, and is one of the organisms which is most commonly recovered from settle or contact plates taken from a clean room environment. Contamination of products with this bacterium could have potentially serious consequences for patients and or consumers.

It’s not all bad…

Currently being investigated for its ability to absorb UV radiation, which could lead to the development of better sun cream.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

The word Pseudomonas comes from the Greek “pseudo” meaning “false” and the Latin “monas” meaning “a single unit”. The term “mon” was used by early microbiologists to refer to germs. The word “aeruginosa” is a Latin word which means “copper rust”, and refers to the blue-green colour of the bug when grown in the lab.

Why is this bacteria important in a cleanroom setting?

This bacteria causes hospital-acquired infections including pneumonia, septic shock and gastrointestinal infection (stomach bug) and is now resistant to multiple different antibiotics, making it very difficult to treat. It is very common in the environment and is a serious cause for concern if found in a clean room.

It’s not all bad…

Previously species of Pseudomonas have been studied for its potential use in bioremediation, which means using bacteria to clean up dangerous environmental pollution.

Aspergillus brasiliensis

The name Aspergillus is derived from the Latin “aspergillum” which means “holy water sprinkler”, after their shape as viewed through a microscope.

Why is this mould important in a cleanroom setting?

It is a common cause of black mould in the environment and can in rare cases cause the serious lung disease aspergillosis. It also forms spores which are resistant to destruction and are able to persist in the environment for a very long time. Due to the resistance of spores to cleaning agents, once present in a clean room environment, it becomes very difficult to eradicate.

It’s not all bad…

Aspergillus brasiliensis is commonly used in the food industry to manufacture citric acid and gluconic acid, and can be fermented to produce pectinases which are used in cider and wine clarification.

Candida albicans

The name Candida is from the Latin for canididus which means “white” and albicans from the Latin word albico which means “becoming white”

Why is this yeast important in a cleanroom environment?

This organism is a yeast which can be found in 40% to 60% of the gastrointestinal tract of human beings. It is usually a harmless organism but in those that are immunocompromised, it can lead to an infection called candidiasis – an overgrowth of the yeast. This infection kills up to 40% of humans.

Candida spp is the most common organism found in biofilms on infected tissue and on implanted medical devices.

If Candida is found in the cleanroom, it is an indication of a loss of control of the environment and an indicator of poor hygiene practices.

It’s not all bad…

Candida is used as a supplement in feed for livestock due to its high protein content and availability.