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In Pics: Check Out This Award-Winning Artwork Made Entirely From Bacteria!

Grown in a petri-dish on a layer of agar-agar—which is the growth medium for most bacteria—different microbes of different colours are grown and ‘trimmed’ to fit the rendition of the artist.

Can bacteria like Staphylococcus or Salmonella be turned into art? Well, the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), believes that it is quite possible!

At the recently held ASM Agar Art contest 2018, participants ranged from university researchers to children under 12, and all of them had one goal—to make art out of microbes.

Grown in a petri-dish on a layer of agar-agar—which is the growth medium for most bacteria—different microbes of different colours are grown and ‘trimmed’ to fit the rendition of the artist.

From microbes that give off a bright red colour, to genetically modified bacteria that glow in the dark, the colours and textures are a veritable field of choices.

In the contest, Bornali Bhattacharjee from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, India, won the second place in the participant category of researchers of ASM society.

The winning art along with their creators are mentioned below. All of the images belong to ASM and/or their creators.

1st Place
The battle of winter and spring
Ana Tsitsishvili, Undergraduate Student, Agricultural University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia

Agar microbe culture art science
On one side is Staphylococcus and Bacillus mycoides, and the other side of the plate is a mix of the resistant Micrococcus and Rhodotorula. The spring flowers are made by Serratia marcescens.

2nd Place
My yellow vision!
Bornali Bhattacharjee, Ph.D., Ramanujan Fellow, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani, India

Agar microbe culture art science
The art was created using Staphylococcus aureus – which is multidrug resistant – in a microbe growth medium.

3rd Place
Sustenance
Mehmet Berkmen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, New England Biolabs, Ipswich, MA, United States

Maria Peñil Cobo, Mixed Media Artist, Beverly, MA, United States

Agar microbe culture art science
The agar art was made from two petri dishes representing the microbial communication between the mother and the child within her womb. E coli, Nesterenkonia, Bacillus and Deinococcus were used to make this art.

People’s Choice
A Salmonellosis Odyssey
María Laura Echarren,
Ph.D. Student, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina

Agar microbe culture art science
A wild type of Salmonella, where each dot is a separate bacteria colony, visualised under UV-light and genetically modified Salmonella strains expressing a green-fluorescence protein were used to create the microbe art. The North Hemisphere shows Leo, Pegasus and Ursa Minor; while the South Hemisphere depicts Orion, Sourthen Crux, Phoenix.

Besides the researchers, as mentioned above, the contest is also open to students above and below age 12.

1st Place
Serratia octopus
Tiare Ribeaux
Patrik D’haeseleer
Created at Counter Culture Labs, Oakland, CA.

Agar microbe culture art science
The bacteria art was created using Serratia marcescens – which changes colour depending on its environment, and age of the culture.

2nd Place
The Sitting President
Daniel Pham
Created at Baltimore Underground Science Space, Baltimore, MD.

Agar microbe culture art science
Inspired by Barack Obama, Daniel Pham made this agar art depicting President Obama’s official portrait

3rd Place
A Bumble Bee, Bacteria, and Mold: Could this be art in the making?
Allison Granberry

Agar microbe culture art science
The piece was created using a q-tip filled with green E.coli sliding across a plastic cutout of a bumblebee.

Students below the age 12 made these spectacular pieces as well.

1st Place
The Magnificent Butterfly
Kate Lin
Age 10
Created at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

Agar microbe culture art science
Kate Lin was inspired to draw this after she saw a butterfly emerge from African grass while on a Safari.

2nd Place
Blue Tulip
Simran Bhattacharya
Age 11
Created at TheLab, Inc., Los Angeles, CA.

Agar microbe culture art science


3rd Place
Ocean and windy breeze
Alice Laun
Age 5
Created at Baltimore Underground Science Space, Baltimore, MD.

Agar microbe culture art science
“These are kids playing on the beach. One is surfing, one is sitting on the sand, and one is swimming. They are all friends and they flew a plane to get to the beach.” describes Alice Laun.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)


Hey, you may also like: In Pics: Bengaluru Woman Transforms Fallen Petals, Leaves Into Stunning 3D Art!


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