From colony to rodlet: “A six meter long portrait of the xerophilic fungus Aspergillus restrictus decorates the hall of the Westerdijk institute.”

Author: 

Jan Dijksterhuis, Wim van Egmond, Andrew Yarwood
Fungal Biol. 2020 May;124(5):509-515.

Abstract: 

The extreme xerophilic fungus Aspergillus restrictus is used as a model for a large artwork created out of five microscopic pictures in total measuring 80 cm by 624 cm. The artwork is printed on aluminium and located at the entrance of the Westerdijk Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands. The first picture is made from a colony of the fungus, which has a dimension of 1 cm and the last picture shows details of ornamentation on conidia and phialides of the fungus. The first two pictures of the artwork are made using a unique method of light microscopy in which many hundreds of pictures are made at different focal depths resulting in high detail and resolution of the pictures. For three other pictures, cryo-electron scanning microscopy was used including both a conventional system for lower magnification and a field emission scanning electron microscope for high resolution micrographs. The range of magnification is, at real size, between 78 and 63,000 times. When the observer passes the artwork it acts like a virtual microscope, just by walking past it you zoom-in to the smallest possible details. This coherent increase of magnification of one fungus, with very high quality light- and electron microscopy micrographs, shows different layers of fungal organization and emergent properties. These include the occurrence of secondary outcrops of hyphae and conidiophores in a colony; the formation of a stipe on a thin aerial hyphae; the presence and formation of characteristic structures on stipes, vesicles and phialides and a continuous zone between the forming conidia and phialides.