Remember when I posted about my bacteria contamination at work?
Just to recap, bacteria grow on the gelatin-looking nutrients (called agar plates) and create colonies, millions of bacteria in one little speck! Depending on the type of bacteria, the colonies look different. When I'm doing experiments, typically I want to work with just one kind of bacteria. In the above photo, the tiny white colonies have invaded my stock of big white bacterial colonies. Both plates should look the same, but they don't.
That, my friends, is contamination. Bacteria are everywhere, so it's inevitable that different bacteria will get into supposedly "sterile" environments.
Check out the contamination I saw a few weeks ago.
This is what a normal culture of Legionella pneumophila should look like:
And these are what contaminated cultures look like:
Totally crazy, right? It amazes me that bacteria grow so differently-- and can contaminate experiments so quickly! Some of the contaminants here are different colors or shapes, and some aren't bacteria at all.
Take this plate for example:
Recognize that kind of growth? It's a fungus, probably mold. How did it get onto my agar plate? Who knows, but likely from the air or a contaminated lab tool.
Contamination is certainly a problem, but can make for some cool results when you least expect it.
What sort of weird things do you see at work?