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The world’s biggest bacterium reaches Birmingham

A huge scientific model – ‘Bacterium E.coli magnified two million times’ - has been installed at Aston University
A huge scientific model – 'Bacterium E.coli magnified two million times' - has been installed at Aston University

28th October 2011

The E.coli superbug has hit Birmingham – but don’t worry, this one isn’t about to make you ill. It’s a huge scientific model, certified by Guinness World Records as the largest ever. The model – ‘Bacterium E.coli magnified two million times’ - was installed at Aston University this week to show the internal structures of a bacterium without the need for a microscope.

The model was designed and built by microbiologist Dr Henry Tribe. The aim is to allow the public to gain an idea of the inner workings of the bacterium on a giant scale, with the model approximately five metres long and two metres tall. It showcases the DNA, proteins and other molecules of E.coli - the parts that humans would normally never see.

Dr Tribe with the E.coli model at Aston University
Dr Tribe with the E.coli model

Dr Tribe believes that the model allows the general public to gain a greater understanding and insight into E.coli. The model highlights the incredible abilities of the superbug, including its capability of creating 1850 different proteins in half an hour and its ability to swim by flagella powered by tiny motors capable of 1000 revolutions per minute. Every one is host to the bacteria, however only a very few strains of E.coli cause the deadly food poisoning associated with it.

Speaking at the unveiling of the model, Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said: “Bringing science and technology to life for members of the public, and especially for young people, is something that we are passionate about here at Aston University. This amazing model demonstrates one way of doing this that is both engaging and fun.”

The model is currently on display to the public in the Main Reception of Aston University. 

Visit the ‘Bacterium E.coli magnified two million times’ website.

For further information or images, please contact Louise Russell, Communications Officer on 0121 204 4637 or l.a.russell1@aston.ac.uk.

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