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A Winogradsky column built from Rehoboth Beach sand in 2004. The green layers at the top are algae the red layers at the bottom are purple phototrophic bacteria.

This page is about phototrophic microbes, which roughly translates to light eating small organisms.  These are important and beneficial organisms that live all around you in the environment.  To navigate the site, just click on page titles in the bar at the top of the page below the University of Delaware header.  Any green colored words are also links to relevant pages, like this.

I want to convince anyone who is interested that microbes are not as bad as we are told by the mass media (Product X kills 99.9% of bacteria and germs!!!).  In fact, microbes are largely responsible for maintaining the planet in a livable state and phototrophic microbes are important players in that process!  Phototrophs can be grown by just about anyone from just about anywhere using the Winogradsky column.  I encourage you to construct your own, let it grow and send me images, details about the source material, how you made it, and anything else you might want to know about it.  If it looks really cool, I may ask to get a sample of it so my lab can culture some things out of it.

The target audience is K-12 educators and anyone else with an interest in learning more about the world around you.  For teachers, the site will provide access to ideas and instructional resources to bring microbiology into the classroom. Winogradsky columns, which are enrichments for phototrophic microbes, can be used to vividly demonstrate basic biological and ecological concepts.  The site will be updated and grow with time, so keep checking back to see what develops.

The final goal of this site is to hopefully have you, the viewing public, help us, the microbe obsessed scientists, capture some new microbes from the environment, bring them into culture, and learn more about our environment in the process.

I hope you enjoy.

T. Hanson February, 2010

This site is supported by a CAREER Award to T. Hanson (MCB-0447649) and a collaborative award to T. Hanson and G. Luther (MCB-0919682).