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Bacteria and fungi are not generally thought of as attractive pieces of art, indeed I know the times I have lapsed in used-by-date judgment I have beheld them with disgust. Disgust, followed by destruction – straight to the bin or a boiling hot death.

Still, they have a certain something… especially when dressed up like this.

These two piratey concoctions were created by the Gregory Lab at the University of Guelph. They were made with e-coli plated onto green agar. I’m not 100% on the process, but if it was me I would print out a design and place a plate of green agar over it – then with an inoculator (sterilised wire loop on a stick) trace the outline onto with e-coli culture, then let it grow for a while. It might not smell great (blegh, e-coli always smells like ass), but at least it LOOKS cool.

Niall Hamilton counters with a range of plates made using fungi and bacteria. I particularly like the way the texture of the grass vs the mushroom head, either the different varieties grow at a different rate or he plated the grass a few hours after the mushroom. Using fungi gives you a range of colours to choose from (I think the pink is Aureobasidium pullulans), for e-coli to grow in different colours you need to genetically engineer them.

Speaking of genetically engineering bacteria, here is Salmonella typhimurium made to express fluorescent and carotenoid pigments. This was created by iGEM Team Osaka, who work on a range of projects, including art of an almost-alcoholic bacterial cocktail. Yum!

These images were found at Microbial Art, and they have plenty more on show. As the role of microbiology becomes larger in society, I think we’ll be seeing more and more microbial artwork. I hope we do, anyway.