Final year undergraduate students engineer bacteria to digest lactose

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Petri plates containing solid nutrients (agar) are used extensively in microbiological studies and sometimes microbial growth can take on quite spectacular forms. The image here shows colonies of a bacteria calledEscherichia coli (E. coli) growing on a ‘MacConkey’ agar plate. The bacteria had been cultivated during a final year undergraduate project, the aim of which had been to identify mutations allowing E. coli to digest different sugars. In the image you can observe the distinctive red colour of the MacConkey agar but also pink halos around the bacterial colonies; the halos tell us that these cells ofE. coli harbour a mutation allowing them to digest the sugar lactose. We decided to capture this image because of the clarity of the colonies and their halos and the dramatic colours present.

Tarun Singh is pursuing a Ph.D. in microbiology, investigating quality control mechanisms of protein synthesis and working under the supervision of Dr Tobias von der Haar and Professor Mick Tuite within the Kent Fungal Group

To see on the School of Biosciences site, click here.

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