Today, more than one fourth of people living in Japan are estimated to be suffering from 'sugi' or Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) pollinosis. Spring should be the worst season for those with such allergies. Binding of the allergen to immunoglobulin E (IgE) on the surface of mast cells triggers release of histamine from them, and it causes symptoms such as itchy eyes or snivel. However, it's not a problem only for human beings. This monkey performing saru-mawashi (monkey show) also has a pollen allergy, and today's stage is, of all places, beside the very sugi tree!
We found a spray of ume (Japanese apricot) with some pretty blossoms. To bring out the best appearance of the blossoms, we arranged it in front of a plate on which a budding yeast strain had been streaked. Since the strain had ade2 mutation and carried a plasmid containing ADE2 gene, a moderate number of colonies turned into deep pink color due to loss of the plasmid were scattered on the medium. What we found as a result was a perfect picture of ume blossoms illuminated from behind by the rising full moon.