Argonne National Laboratory

Video - Microbial Bebop - Blues for Elle

This musical composition was created from data of microbes - bacteria, algae and other microorganisms - sampled in the English Channel. (Above, the USS Winston S. Churchill traverses the English Channel.) Argonne National Laboratory biologist Peter Larsen created the songs as a unique way to present and comprehend large datasets.

Some marine microbial taxa are most often present in the L4 Station community at very low abundance, but occasionally become highly dominant community members. To link these microbial blooms to relevant physical parameters, the chords in this composition are derived from changes in chlorophyll A concentrations and salinity. The melody for each measure is derived from the relative abundances of typically rare taxa that were observed to occasionally bloom to higher abundance in the following order: Cyanobacteria, Vibrionales, Opitulates, Pseudomondales, Rhizobiales, Bacillales, Oceanospirallales, and Sphingomonadales.

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Photo: USS Winston S. Churchill and Royal Navy HMS Cumberland transit the English Channel, courtesy U.S. Navy (

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