Translated from: Random Sweet Science

Art and Science # 7 Microbial bacterial art and art: Art in Petri dishes

Bacteria! Bacteria! Bacteria! To sing to the tune of Bicycle Race  by Queen.  Hem.So in this episode of Arts and Sciences , we will talk about bacteria all the sauces. Not very appetizing a priori, but if you read my little note on fractals bacteria , you already know that these microscopic organisms can sometimes reserve nice surprises 🙂

 Courtesy of:

On the menu for this episode: Maria PENIL Cobo , a painter who paints paintings with bacteria,  Hagar Art Contest , portraits in bacterial pixel Zachary Copfer , bacterial sculptures Rogan Brown and the Daily Dish by Klari Reis .Good reading !

Paint with bacteria; bio-art PENIL Maria Cobo

The artist Maria PENIL Cobo is a mixed media artist , it said on its website , which draws its inspiration from nature (original may thrive gossips). With the help of Mehmet Berkmen microbiologist, she is engaged in a singular practice: bacterial paint. A Petri dish becomes a canvas where she pipetted the seeds of his work.

Bio-Scapes II,  Maria Cobo PENIL

Between us, I would not go to hang in my living room – the result is not amazing – unless one offers me one day for Father’s Day. This is the technique that is, we examine these crusts high-tech , potentially harmful. For each bacterial tondo requires juggling the constraints imposed by the strain used, and this is where the artist reveals his talent. By combining several strains PENIL Maria Cobo must consider the speed and shape of growth and nutrient requirements and the color of each colony of bacteria. Even more tedious: some strains go through different shapes or colors in their growth, it is necessary to manage a precise timing to get the desired result. Finally, we must also take into account the animosities held by some of these microorganisms with respect to their peers. I guess the picture is set when it is satisfactory, using a lacquer or resin.Specifically, a bacterial painting session looks like this:


As for the growth of the colony, it can be an idea in this video in time-lapse :


To conclude this section, a small selection of works by  Maria PENIL Cobo, which you can admire directly on its site :

Bio-Scapes V,  Maria Cobo PENIL
Bio-Scapes XIII,  Maria Cobo PENIL
Nature Scapes-III,  Maria Cobo PENIL
Sea-Scapes IV,  Maria Cobo PENIL


Sea-Scapes V,  Maria Cobo PENIL


The Agar Art Competition

The competition is named after the agar , nutrient gel used in microbiology (E406 for those who anxiously stalk food additives). It is obtained part of an algae which has been preserved the designation of origin: the agar . Finally, “agar” is also the grunt of satisfaction that can be heard in the mating scene from Quest for Fire , but it has nothing to do with the topic of this post.

Louis Pasteur in  Chromobacterium violaceaum by Dharshika Jayasuriya
To participate in the contest  Agar art , two conditions: join the American Society for Microbiology and of course, produce a work of art with agar and microorganisms. The competition is still relatively confidential, but the winning works have still made its way up the glory, especially on social networks.Naturally we find there the work of  Maria PENIL Cobo, winner of the 2015 , but also more photogenic designs, although certainly more feasible.  The 2016 edition devoted Zohorul Md Islam at the University of Copenhagen, with a bold subject, the celebration of life:
As before, I made a small selection (with credits when I found them):
“Twelve Years of Yuck” publishing 3rd place 2016. Credit: Gart Elena and Laura Bryan of Texas A & M University


“Flowering Sunshine”. More here.


“Alexander Flamingo Under a Cherry Tree “.  (If I explain the pun, the title refers to Alexander Fleming, who discovered, among others, penicillin). Credit s: Tatsuya Akiyama and Rhonda Craver of Montana State University


“Harvest Season” with  Saccharomyces cerevisiae. More info here .


“The Noble Tusker”. Credit: Dharshika Jayasuriya, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Bifidobacteria micro-flower. More info here .


“Skinfinity”. Credit: Tarah Rhoda, School of Visual Arts in New York
” Yeast Go Viral”. More here .


The Wild Garden of the Gut Bacteria. More info here.
NYC Biome MAP. More info here .


” Hunger Games” in  Actinomycetes. More info here .

Portraits into bacterial pixels

Zachary Copfer has a wizard name and a definite way, it is. Microbiologist and photographer, he has developed a technique – called bacteriography – which allows him to recreate portraits bacterial pixels. And as Zachary is a great guy, he explains everything (well almost a part of the process remains secret) in this video:

In summary: the first image is pixelated in any software, then turned into negative, which will serve as stencil. This stencil is disposed over a Petri dish seeded with bacteria. The assembly is then exposed to UV rays will strike down all bacteria except those protected by the stencil. Following this micro-genocide, the surviving bacteria develop to form the pixels of the image:

When the image is formed properly, the growth is interrupted by cooling part and by exterminating bacteria resistant to blow-offs. Finally, the whole is covered with an acrylic layer. Like other artists, here is a selection of images:

Portrait of Picasso bacteriographié by Zachary Copfer
Spiral Galaxy bacteriographié by Zachary Copfer
Portrait of Darwin bacteriographié by Zachary Copfer
Portrait of Einstein bacteriographié by Zachary Copfer
Zachary Copfer himself is preparing a DNA test

Well, it got me thinking about this drops to printer:

Bacterial sculptures Rogan Brown

Moving away a little bit, but I wanted to cram here delicate paper sculptures Rogan Brown, inspired by biology in general and forms of microorganisms especially for its sublime creations. This example, called Cut Microbe , mimics the forms of salmonella and E. coli bacteria.

Cut Microbe to  Rogan Brown
His website is full of admirable achievements, each of which requires several months of painstaking work. I also show you this sculpture called Outbreak –  a term that refers to the explosive moment of an epidemic – inspired by a discussion of the microbiome.
Outbreak, Rogan Brown
Outbreak, detail. Credit: Rogan Brown 
Outbreak, detail. Credit: Rogan Brown 
Outbreak, detail. Credit: Rogan Brown 
Outbreak, detail. Credit: Rogan Brown 

The daily dish of Klari Reis

The  daily dish  of  Klari Reis  is colorful in every way. Every day, the British artist creates an abstract work in a Petri dish, and then assign a meaningful name: “Absinthe on the rocks”, “Blue skittle in the microvawe”, “Allergy season” or “Dang I just Some spat coffee in it aim it still looks ok “.  The last one  is called” Preserved lime “. This time, no bacteria, is the good old paint but microbiological inspiration is obvious. And if some works are rather arbitrary, others are really nice. For once, I would not mind something like that in my living room 🙂 I leave you with a photo gallery, starting with those of June:

Maleficent MAY 18, 2016


It’s almost finished ! If you are interested in the art microbial broadly, so that brings together everything that has to do with the production of living works of art made from microorganisms, I recommend the site microbial art . Launched by biologists Niall Hamilton and T. Ryan Gregory, he wants a kind of repertoire that includes the creations of various artists, Eshel Ben-Jacob collective bioglyphs . I close with two bonus pictures:
The imprint of the hand of the son of Tascha Sturm on a Petri dish, after several days of incubation
“SPECIMEN” embroidered muslin in Petri dishes, taken from “Under the Looking Glass” Maggie Leininger, 2006


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