Marmoricola aurantiacus gen. nov., sp. nov., a coccoid member of the family Nocardioidaceae isolated from a marble statue.
A Gram-positive, aerobic bacterium with coccoid cells occurring singly, in pairs and in clusters was isolated from the surface of a marble statue. The peptidoglycan contain LL-diaminopimelic acid as diagnostic diamino acid and a single glycine residue as interpeptide bridge (type A3 gamma). The major menaquinone is MK-8(H4). The cellular fatty acid pattern consists of straight chain saturated and monounsaturated components and 10-methyl octadecanoic (tuberculostearic) acid as the only branched chain fatty acid. Phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylglycerol and diphosphatidylglycerol occur as characteristic polar lipids. The DNA G + C composition is 72 mol%. According to its phylogenetic position and 16S rDNA signature nucleotides, the organism is a member of the family Nocardioidaceae. The combination of chemotaxonomic characteristics is unique within this family and supports the description of a new genus and new species, Marmoricola aurantiacus. The type strain is strain BC 361T (= DSM 12652T). (+info
An organ donor memorial.
This article describes how a memorial to transplant donors was created in a district general hospital. The subjects discussed include: how to start, the official ceremony, the value of such a venture to those concerned, finance and time involved, a description of the memorial itself, the ongoing promotion of the scheme, and the pressing need for organ donors. (+info
Conservation of ornamental stone by Myxococcus xanthus-induced carbonate biomineralization.
Increasing environmental pollution in urban areas has been endangering the survival of carbonate stones in monuments and statuary for many decades. Numerous conservation treatments have been applied for the protection and consolidation of these works of art. Most of them, however, either release dangerous gases during curing or show very little efficacy. Bacterially induced carbonate mineralization has been proposed as a novel and environmentally friendly strategy for the conservation of deteriorated ornamental stone. However, the method appeared to display insufficient consolidation and plugging of pores. Here we report that Myxococcus xanthus-induced calcium carbonate precipitation efficiently protects and consolidates porous ornamental limestone. The newly formed carbonate cements calcite grains by depositing on the walls of the pores without plugging them. Sonication tests demonstrate that these new carbonate crystals are strongly attached to the substratum, mostly due to epitaxial growth on preexisting calcite grains. The new crystals are more stress resistant than the calcite grains of the original stone because they are organic-inorganic composites. Variations in the phosphate concentrations of the culture medium lead to changes in local pH and bacterial productivity. These affect the structure of the new cement and the type of precipitated CaCO(3) polymorph (vaterite or calcite). The manipulation of culture medium composition creates new ways of controlling bacterial biomineralization that in the future could be applied to the conservation of ornamental stone. (+info
Gunther von Hagens and Body Worlds part 2: The anatomist as priest and prophet.
Part 1 of this two-part series highlighted tensions between the anatomical quest for scientific knowledge about the human interior and artistic representations of the anatomized body, contrasting the roles of Goethe's scientific Prosektor and humanistic Proplastiker-roles disturbingly fused in Gunther von Hagens. Part 2 first examines religious interpretations of the human body that fuel the tensions manifest in anatomy art. The body in Western cultures is a sacred text amenable to interpretation as handiwork of God, habitation for the soul, and vehicle for resurrection. As handiwork of God the body beckons the anatomist's scalpel, helping establish dissection as the hallmark of Western medicine. The body as divinely designed machine encompasses the idea of an indwelling soul expressing its will in actions mediated through the intricate network of muscles-an understanding reflected in the oft occurring muscle men of early anatomical textbooks. Interconnections of body and soul in medieval somatic spirituality are examined with reference to ideas of resurrection and their impact on anatomical illustration. Part 2 concludes with consideration of von Hagens as priest and prophet, culminating in the Promethean impulse that recognizes not God but ourselves as proper owners and molders of our destiny, embodied in the plastinator's visionary quest to create the superhuman. (+info
Cat dissection vs. sculpting human structures in clay: an analysis of two approaches to undergraduate human anatomy laboratory education.
Many human anatomy courses are taught using cat dissection. Alternatives are available, but information regarding learning outcomes is incomplete. In 2003, approximately 120 undergraduates enrolled in a human anatomy course were assigned to one of two treatment groups. In the control group, students performed cat dissections (emphasizing isolation and identification) of the muscular, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. In the experimental treatment group, students built clay sculptures of each human body system. Student learning was evaluated by using both low- and high-difficulty questions. On pre- and postexperiment control exams, there were no significant differences in student performance. On exams after a cat dissection vs. a human-clay sculpting experience, the students in the human-clay sculpting treatment group scored significantly higher than their classmates in the cat dissection group on both the low- and high-difficulty questions. Student attitudes toward dissection and taking future human anatomy courses were also measured. There were no differences in student attitudes at the beginning of the experiment; afterward, students exposed to a cat dissection experience viewed dissection more favorably than students in the human-clay sculpting treatment group. There were no treatment effects on student willingness to take future human anatomy courses. The experimental design makes it difficult to conclude precisely why students assigned to the human-clay sculpting experience performed better on exams, but as each method was performed in this particular human anatomy course, our data indicate that human-clay sculpting may be a viable alternative to cat dissection in an anatomy course in which the students focus on human anatomy. (+info
Contributions of in situ microscopy to the current understanding of stone biodeterioration.
In situ microscopy consists of simultaneously applying several microscopy techniques without separating the biological component from its habitat. Over the past few years, this strategy has allowed characterization of the biofilms involved in biodeterioration processes affecting stone monuments and has revealed the biogeophysical and biogeochemical impact of the microbiota present. In addition, through in situ microscopy diagnosis, appropriate treatments can be designed to resolve the problems related to microbial colonization of stone monuments. (+info
Application of molecular nucleic acid-based techniques for the study of microbial communities in monuments and artworks.
Microorganisms play critical roles in every kind of habitat on Earth, including those constructed by humans. Thus, our cultural heritage is affected by microbial colonization. While classical microbiological methods based on culturing procedures have provided important, but limited information on the microbial diversity of natural samples, novel molecular techniques have been extremely valuable in unraveling the diversity of microbiota involved in the biodeterioration of our monuments and artworks. The knowledge gained from these approaches has allowed the design of strategies for conserving and protecting monuments for the benefit of future generations. This review describes the state-of-the-art of the application of molecular methods to the analysis of cultural assets, and provides near-future perspectives on the subject. (+info
Hairstyles in the arts of Greek and Roman antiquity.
Styling one's hair seems to be an innate desire of humans to emphasize their beauty and power. As reviewed here, hairstyles were influenced by preceding cultures, by religion, by those depicted for gods and emperors on sculptures and coins. In addition, they were determined by aspects of lifestyle such as sports, wealth, and the desire to display inner feelings. The historical changes in fashions can be exemplarily followed by a visitor to an art collection of Graeco-Roman antiquity. The study of hairstyles permits an insight into very basic aspects of the self-conception of individuals and of the respective societies. (+info