arts + media + pop culture

Microbial Art

The American Society for Microbiology recently held its 2015 Agar Art contest, in which it asked participants to use microbes as the paint and agar medium as the canvas for their artwork. Here are a few of my favorites:

…agar is more than just useful, it can also be beautiful! Looking at pH shifts and chromogenic reactions every day, we couldn’t resist the urge to play and have a little fun in the lab. [HardyChrom POP]


Neurons/Mehmet Berkmen, New England Biolabs

…painted with yellow Nesterenkonia, orange Deinococcus and Sphingomonas isolated for their attractive colors as contaminants in the Berkmen lab. After growing the plates for 2 days at 30C, the artist usually lets the plate sit for few more days before permanently sealing the work in epoxy.



NYC Biome MAP/Christine Marizzi, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory/DNA Learning Center

The Urban Biome Map is a collaborative project between citizen scientists and artists, aiming to make the invisible visible and to raise awareness for the urban microbiome to the general public in a fun hands-on activity. We invited the public to learn about microbes by creating a city map using harmless Escherichia coli K12 bacteria engineered with colorful fluorescent proteins like GFP, RFP or YFP as paint.


The picture shows genetically modified B. animalis subsp. lactis strains harboring plasmids expressing a green-fluorescence protein (stamen and carpels) or a red-fluorescence protein (petals). [Bifidobacteria micro-flower/Nuria Castro]


See more microbial art on ASM’s Facebook page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *