This post is also available in: deDeutsch


a column with eggs, mud

and newspaper

This column was invented by a researcher named Winogradsky. First of all, it is filled with mud from a pond and then mixed with pieces of newspaper and eggs. The mud hosts different kinds of bacteria, newspaper and eggs provide nitrogen, sulphur and energy to grow the bacteria. 

And the sunlight also provides energy, and so we find in this column bacteria of various kinds, and also colorings. Some pass away, others come, and every day the column looks different.

The biggest

Winogradsky-column in Europe

Project description

Winogradsky columns are small ecosystems with different ecological niches. Glass containers are filled with pond mud, and due to the different oxygen and nutrient supply at the top and bottom and an exposed an unexposed side, specific microbial microhabitats result, which are characterized by different evolving colours. The wavelength of available light also influences the community. With the help of prisms, zonings can be achieved, which the visitor can visualize by pressing a white-light-button.


Institute of Microbiology (Insam)

Winogradsky Säule, Copyright H. Insam


Project description

The Winogradsky window is based on the Winogradsky column. The transparent double glass window was filled with mud and water from the Inn and the pond of the Technology Campus of the University of Innsbruck. Newpaper, eggs, gypsum, chalk, sodium hydrogen carbonate and paper-clips were added in order to supply the microbial community with nutrients.

This form makes it possible on the one hand to photograph the processes with a minimum of mirroring and on the other hand to present a study of use beyond the scientific experiment. The Winogradsky window with its aesthetic qualities can, for example, be used as a responsive, constantly changing facade-element in architecture. The exposure to light produces various photosynthetically active organisms that appear in different colors.

170 days long, the Winogradsky window was photographed once a day to visualize the temporal change in a time-lapse video.


Institute of Microbiology (Heribert Insam, Lena Puchberger), Institute of Ecology (Klemens Weisleitner)


Making of