Painting in a Petri Dish

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Scientists as Artists Yields Cultured Results

Read how scientists create miniature works of art in petri dishes

Starry Night Melanie Sullivan

Who says microbes are ugly or that scientists are not creative?

This rendition of Starry Night was plated by Melanie Sullivan, who was not the only entrant to use multiple petri dishes to complete their masterpieces.

The American Society for Microbiology held an art contest–yes, an ART contest. We call it painting in a petri dish, they called it the Agar Art Contest. They received 85 submissions including landscapes, cityscapes, florals, and even the reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

You could even say the results were infectious.

Like all art shows, the submissions were judged on their creativity and presentation. These artists also had to consider safety guidelines that most painters never have to think about. Since they were”painting” with microbes and infectious bacteria they had to be sure they were not spreading diseases

The multitalented scientists used proteins, yeast and good ol’ fashioned bacteria to create visions of flowers, skeletons, butterflies — even a map of New York City.

Harvest Season Maria Eugenia Inda

Third place winner, Harvest Season, was created by Maria Eugenia Inda using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast.


Thanks to Priscilla Frank Arts Writer, The Huffington Post, read her entire article here.

To see the winners gallery, visit Microbe World

Starry Night by Melanie Sullivan of Missouri, photo from Agar Art

Harvest Season by Maria Eugenia Inda, photo from Agar Art

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