Blaine Cathey


My microbiology failed gram stain photographed by iPhone 6+ through the eyepiece of a 1000x oil immersion telescope lens. This culture was created from an attempted gram stain using crystal violet, safranin, iodine, ethyl alcohol and an unknown bacteria from a broth culture I created. Gram staining is a basic technique used to differentiate bacteria into two categories, gram positive or gram negative. Gram staining involves three processes: staining with a water-soluble dye called crystal violet, decolorization, and counterstaining, usually with safranin. Due to differences in the thickness of a peptidoglycan layer in the cell membrane between Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria, Gram positive bacteria (with a thicker peptidoglycan layer) retain crystal violet stain during the decolorization process and end up crystal violet, while Gram negative bacteria lose the crystal violet stain and are instead stained by the safranin in the final staining process, ending up pink. My culture here "failed" the test, as it ended up neither violet nor pink, yet I was left with a unique work of art that can never be recreated. This is art from bacterial growth in a culture placed onto a slide and viewed at a 1000x microscopic level.