E. Coli generally means one thing to people: go see a doctor. But Chris Voigt of and a team at MIT have manipulated a strain of harmless Escherichia coli so that it produces different pigments to create bacterial black and white photography.
The team genetically altered the bacteria so that it would respond to light, producing a black pigment when in darkness whilst remaining transparent when in red light. They then placed the altered bacteria in an agar-filled petri dish and projected a pattern of light, the bacteria only grows in the shadows, producing the black pigment. Voigt and his team have been working with the film-like bacteria for a few years now, publishing an article in Nature journal in 2005, Voigt said:
Our living photographs are a somewhat playful example of how devices quite useful to technology and medicine can be created in the new field of synthetic biology. We estimate that the resolution of these photographs is about 100 megapixels, or about 10 times better than high-resolution printers.
Although it has been in the scientific arena for some time, Popular Science has now posted a tutorial for amateurs to grow their own bacterial photographs. Check it out here.