Feast Your Eyes: Photos of the Microbes That Inhabit Your Gut

A look at the fibers, forests, and spores of our microbial diet, and its relationship to bio-couture, Latin paintbrushes, and gut flora.

Synthetic biologist Christine Agapakis has posted a fun set of photos of food microbes taken by scanning electron microscope. The image above shows kombucha, a type of tea that is fermented by a combination of yeasts and bacteria, which has attracted a growing band of followers convinced of its miraculous health-giving powers.

As Agapakis writes, kombucha "looks incredible under the microscope, where you can see the dense mesh of cellulose fibers that the microbes produce. These fibers form a 'raft' on top of the tea that can be dried and pressed into sturdy sheets, like those used to make BioCouture."

The image above shows a spray of Penicillium, the fungus that creates the characteristic blue-gray molding on St. Maure (and other blue) cheese. Look at its shape: Agapakis explains that Penicillium takes its name from the Latin word for paintbrush, peniculus.

According to fermentation guru Sandor Katz, "Eating bacteria is one of life's greatest pleasures." In a recent profile of Katz in the New Yorker, reporter Burkhard Bilger writes:

Beer, wine, cheese, bread, cured meats, coffee, chocolate: our best-loved foods are almost all fermented. They start out bitter, bland, cloying, or indigestible and are remade by microbes into something magnificent.

What's even more interesting is that all these microbes in our foods are then digested by the more than 500 different species of bacteria living in our guts, which outnumber the human cells in our bodies by 10 to 1. These bacteria-to-bacteria interactions metabolize nutrients, regulate fat storage, and even train the developing immune system, forming their own ecosystem that blurs the boundary of the individual body. Indeed, as Lynn Margulis, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, tells Bilger:

There is no such thing as an individual. What we see as animals are partly just integrated sets of bacteria.

Photos via Oscillator.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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via Around the NFL / Twitter

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The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

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"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

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