Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Common Player In Our Microbial Life

Pen & Ink Fine Art By Doug Ashby
It might come as no surprise that one of my favorite items in this world to consume is beer. Not only do I love the taste I also believe that, if handled with care, beer is part of a healthy diet. Oh and before I forget I love how a few of them make me feel. Let's face it that is really why we all love alcohol. As dangerous as it can be treated well it is a marvel of human manipulation of our environment.

But do we really manipulate that environment as be we believe. Many brew masters would beg to differ and give almost all of the credit for a great beer to the little fungus known as S. Cerevisiae. Otherwise know as yeast. Yup it is this ubiquitous critter, it literally is everywhere, that turns ordinary grains into the stuff so many of us adore.

Still that is something that many of us hardly ever consider. Just how intertwined we are with this fungus. It has the dubious distinction of being the most studied life form on the planet, and yet we know very little about it. The question is have we adapted it to our purposes, or is it adapting us to it's? I mean lets face it much of our grain production in this world goes to producing beer and bread. The very thing S. Cerevisiae wants to chow down on. Many contemporary anthropologists currently believe that agriculture began in order to secure a steady beer supply. Interesting huh? For me it simply seems to be a wonderful and thriving symbiotic relationship.

This drawing here is an attempt to capture the essence of the yeast doing it's job on the beer. The vegetation in the left corner is a hop, that which gives beer it's distinctive taste, and of course I needed to add an electron. After listening to a physics lecture on biological machinery the electron became the symbol of life for me.

I hope you enjoy the art and thoughts.

Thanks, Doug
The Opinionated Artist

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