Winogradsky columns are an important part of microbial ecology history. Sergei Winogradsky, one of the first microbial ecologists, used these devices to study biofilms of bacteria and identify the first known cases of lithotrophy (the use of inorganic compounds for energy generation) and carbon fixation. Winogradsky columns are still occasionally used to grow freshwater bacteria today.
We’ve set up a few Winogradsky columns in the lab in preparation for our outreach activities at the Wisconsin Science Festival on Oct 22-25. We’ll be using these to demonstrate the wide diversity of bacteria in freshwater. We’re also trialing some smaller versions of the columns, and if these work out, we’ll be helping people make their own to take home and observe. They take several weeks to establish a thriving bacterial community, so check back here for updates!