Patriotic Painted Finger-Nails

Biotechnology and the world of colours have always been intertwined. Nature's hues and tints are captured in their natural or synthetic state in a variety of market products. The flower markets of natural blood-red roses and gene-designed blue roses recently released in Japan are apt examples.

To-date notwithstanding the awe-inspiring snip and tuck techniques of genetic engineering, the legendary 'Black Tulip' of French author Alexander Dumas still remains the 'Holy Grail of the Tulip world'. Several types from 'Tulip Queen of Night' (1944) to T.'Black Hero' (1984) constitute 'the category of the 'blackest of the officially 'purple' tulips'.

Nature's wealth of colours have inspired celebrity painters and poets ---French-born Hillarie Belloc describes in verse the morphology of The Microbe with its 'seven tufted tails with lots of pink and purple spots.'; and schoolchildren to explore the microbial world through the 'looking-glass' of Winogradsky's column with its purple and green bands ---consortia of the green and purple photosynthetic bacteria. Blue-green cyanobacteria contribute to the economy of Nature's important biogeochemical Cycles-the nitrogen cycle.

The Red Sea may derive its colour and name from the red-cyanobacterium -- Trichodesmium erythraeum, but the destruction of numerous fish is due to the Red Tide population of the plant-like red-brown dinoflagellates. Pigments help classify the brown, yellow, red and green algae; and protozoa and yeasts such as Euglena and Pichia. Nature's colour artistry occurs throughout the biospectrum incorporating interalia green and purple bacteria, antibiotic-producing species of Streptomyces and Nocardia, fungi that color cheeses, blue-green anoles, rainbow papaya and trout, and green fluorescent proteins responsible for the coloration of diverse corals and anemones. Green, yellow, orange-red and purple-blue chromoproteins are the raison d'etre of fabled reef colours varying in the spectrum of daylight conditions.