Saturday, December 15, 2018

Biofilm Knit Hat

I am thrilled to finally share this biofilm knit hat that I designed and knit last December! The pattern for this hat can be found here on Ravelry or directly here

I was excited to be asked if I could design a biofilm hat as I study bacterial biofilms at Stanford University. Click here for more about my research.

Bacteria are single cell organisms. The bacteria that I study, Bacillus subtilis is a soil-dwelling bacterium that is ~3-5 micrometers long. These bacteria can live on their own or they can "settle down" on a surface and form a biofilm. A biofilm is a group of cells that are held together by a substance that the cells produce and excrete. This substance (also known as slime) is a sticky substance that keeps the cells together. Once the cells are in a biofilm, they can adapt to take on different roles within the biofilm. For instance, the cells on the interior of the biofilm usually assume a more dormant role while the bacteria that are closer to nutrients and oxygen remain more metabolically active and can grow and divide. Biofilms are very important to study as several pathogenic bacteria can form biofilm infections in the body that are hard to treat. Bacillus subtilis, the strain that I study, is typically a soil-dwelling bacteria. However, the knowledge that I can gain through studying its biofilm formation can be applied to all types of biofilms including those that cause disease.

This hat is my version of a classical figure illustrating the developmental stages of a biofilm. This one represents a bacterial biofilm that forms on a surface in a liquid environment such as the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Check out the movie I made below where I demonstrate how this knit hat illustrates biofilm development. If you want to learn more about biofilms, I'd recommend checking out the wikipedia page here.

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