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A Bleeding, Breathing Billboard Starring Serratia

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Just days after Sci Am published my story on the “bleeding” bacterium Serratia marcescens, a friend sent me this video, in which the marketing department behind the film “Contagion” up north apparently decided to go super-geek and cook up something delightful. Science as art, my friends.

Way, way cool, boys. In addition to Serratia, which provides the delightful red coloring of the biohazard symbols and the lettering of the board on the right (handy bio-nerd tip: If you want to keep your roommates away from your leftovers, use those cute biohazard marked zip-loc bags to store them. Expensive, but effective!), they also appear to have innoculated several species of mold (Pennicillium? Cladosporium?) into the lettering of the board on the left. Notice that the mold starts out white, and doesn’t darken until the very end, when it starts making its melanin-laced spores (the melanin is sunscreen to protect the spores from UV damage).

I would not, however, have wanted to be the unfortunate whose job it was to remove these things after they’d, um, served their purpose. Speaking of uses for biohazard bags . . .

Jennifer Frazer About the Author: Jennifer Frazer is a AAAS Science Journalism Award-winning science writer. She has degrees in biology, plant pathology/mycology, and science writing, and has spent many happy hours studying life in situ. Follow on Twitter @JenniferFrazer.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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