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"Memories of Clostridia"  . . .  a painting by Dr. Eva R Kashket

Painting: Memories of Clostridia, by Eva R Kashket in 2008

acrylic on canvas
16" wide x 20" tall

Memories of Clostridia

Eva Kashket - 2008

Upper left:  Beijerinck Crater , Moon

Middle circle:  a large colony of Clostridium beijerinckii  NCIMB 8052 (formerly C. acetobutylicum) grown on Medium T6 agar. The brown granular center contains mainly spores. Note the variously colored sectors; they are composed of spores, clostridial forms as well as vegetative cells. The thin, beige outgrowths are composed on non-viable degenerate cells, which are incapable of producing solvents or spores. Extending the outgrowth beyond the plate is just artistic license.

Left and right circles:  two Petri plates with several colonies, some with degenerate blobs.

Photographs:  Martinus Beijerinck (left) and Chaim Weizmann (right).

Bottom right:  a phase-bright clostridial spore.

The text above is Dr. Kashket's own title and description of her painting.

About the Painting

Eva R. Kashket was a microbiologist and professor in the Department of Microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine. Her research was largely focused on cellular membrane processes involved in bacterial energy conservation, pH homeostasis and solute transport. She chose solvent-forming clostridia as her study organisms often, but not exclusively. Her work included a series of papers about factors influencing strain degeneration in C. beijerinckii NCIMB 8052. I worked briefly with Dr. Kashket during my years in industry. One day Eva described an unusual plate colony that she had observed and had kept in her refrigerator for months as a source of spores for inoculum. The colony was atypically large, had a dark brown center with a raised profile, and was sectored. The colony center was the site of unusually efficient spore formation relative to typical colonies of NCIMB 8052. I asked Eva if she would be willing to paint what she had seen for my better understanding. The two scientists in the painting figure prominently in early studies of butyl alcohol-forming clostridia as a group (Martinus Beijerinck) and in development of the acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation as an economically viable process (Chaim Weizmann).

The painting is accurate about certain morphological features common to colonies of NCIMB 8052 plated on rich media, such as:

  • the diameter of the smaller colonies relative to the Petri plate diameter (plate would be 90‑100 mm). Normal colonies of NCIMB 8052 can reach this size.
  • the presence of the beige zones (representing higher translucence) spreading from the margins of some colonies but not all colonies
  • Curlicues along the outer margins of the beige outgrowths on the large colony...in the painting most visible where the outgrowths extend beyond the plate. These sometimes form on the margins of normal sized colonies and are best observed using a stereomicroscope.

"Pancake Bunny"  . . .  a painting by Dr. Eva R Kashket

Painting: Pancake Bunny, by Eva R Kashket in 2009

acrylic on canvas
20" wide x 16" tall

Pancake Bunny

Eva Kashket - 2009

After receiving "Memories of Clostridia" I asked Dr. Kashket if she could accept requests for paintings on commission, and she said yes.

What I had in mind was a photograph that had long circulated on the world wide web. I asked Eva if she could paint it, and she delivered "Pancake Bunny".

The story of the bunny rabbit named "Oolong" and its owner/photographer can be found here.