The Biology Collection Is Growing On Me - Part 2: Microbiology + Virology + Mycology

One of my goals in the last two years was to grow my Biology Collection. Here is Part 2 of the Biology Blog Series which explores the Microbiology, Virology and Mycology designs in The Chemist Tree Shop.

Microbiology is the study of bacteria and microorganisms.
Virology is the study of viruses. 
Mycology is the study of yeasts, fungi, and mushrooms. 

During the final year of my undergraduate studies, I worked in a microbiology lab and completed a research thesis on the gene expression patterns of E. coli. Then I continued on with research in a medical mycology lab and studied yeast metabolites and drug resistance of C. albicans for my Masters degree.



Bacteria are one-celled microorganisms that reproduce in a process called budding. The Happy Birthday Bud Card shows what this would look like if you could zoom in and look at a bacteria cell up close.

A bacteriophage, commonly called a phage is a type of virus that can infect bacteria. They look very interesting with an icosahedron head, like the structure you see in the Happy Phages Day Card (a punny Father's Day card). Do you think phages look cool or creepy?

The tardigrade might be the trendiest little organism on earth! They are larger than bacteria and are actually multicellular, however they are still quite tiny at about 0.5 mm in size and considered microorganisms. Tardigrades can survive in some of the harshest environmental conditions such as extremely high temperatures, extremely low or high pressure, radiation, drought and even when there is a lack of food, water or oxygen. You can see what the face of a tardigrade looks like in the Tardy But Great Card.


There are some other interesting facts you can learn about bacteria with these Microbiology Coasters featuring various microbiological molecules and a graph depicting how bacteria grow. The science behind each of these diagrams are explained on the under side of each coaster. 

How do bacteria grow?

Bacteria grow into a population in four stages or phases:

  1. LAG - an early stage where no growth occurs because bacteria are still adjusting to their environment
  2. EXPONENTIAL - a period of rapid growth where bacteria cells are doubling in numbers with every replication cycle
  3. STATIONARY - a period of no further multiplication because there is already a high density of bacteria cells that can live off and be supported by the resources in the environment
  4. DEATH - when bacteria die as resources are depleted

Do you know that bacteria talk?

When bacterial cells reach a high density during the stationary phase of their growth, they can communicate with each other to coordinate group behaviour by a process called quorum sensing. They do so using a molecule called homoserine lactone that looks like the structure in the beige coaster above.

Gram Stain

There are many different types of bacteria in the world and researchers can classify them into two different groups by the differences in their cell wall using a lab technique called Gram Staining. As the name suggests, it's a staining method that uses dyes, one of which is crystal violet, a purple dye whose molecular structure can be seen in the purple coaster above.


Some bacteria can cause infections and make us ill. Antibiotics are the medicines that can kill bacteria and bring us back to health. Penicillin was the first antibiotic to have been discovered in 1928 by Alexander Flemming. You can see its molecular structure in the pink coaster above. 


Besides bacteria, fungi can also be harmful to humans. Some of the deadliest toxic poisons in the world come from mushrooms and other fungi. The chemical structures of these mean molecules can be seen in the Not So Fun-gi Poster

Are you fascinated by the world of bacteria, viruses, and fungi? What are you most curious about? What do you think about the Biology Collection? Let me know in the comments below.

If you missed the first article of the Biology Blog Series last week, you can read it here - Part 1: Genetics

Next week will be the third and final instalment of the Biology Blog Series where we will explore the Molecular Biology + Biochemistry designs in The Chemist Tree Shop.

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