Microbial Painting

For my microbial painting, I chose to keep things simple in an attempt to reduce unexpected results and produce a visually pleasing piece. However, there was clearly some unexpected cross-contamination! For this piece, I used EMB agar (which selects for gram-negative bacteria and differentiates between lactose fermenters and non-fermenters) as my “canvas” and two strains of bacteria as my “paint.”  Citrobacter freundii,  a strongly acidic fermenter of lactose, turns dark red on this medium, and so I used it to outline and fill my heart. Then, I used  Proteus mirabilis, a less acidic lactose fermenter, as my ” pink paint” for the small dots along the edge of the plate. There was some cross-contamination along the outline of the heart, which I suspect is a result of cells dropping off of the loop when I lifted it over the plate. An unexpected result, but very pretty nonetheless!

Painting with Microbes

These are my three paintings with microbes. The first is a mountain scene on TSA, the second is a sea shell on EMB, and the third is a sea anemone on MAC. The red color on the  S. marcescens, which is what the mountains and the “reflection” of the mountains is made of. I also attempted to add some into the sky to represent the aurora, but it did not grow in the presence of the other bacteria there.  

Lab 8: Painting with Microbes

This plate was my attempt to draw a turtle on the surface of water. Both bacteria I used appeared on the EMB plate and therefore were both Gram- negative. The bacteria I was using for the water fermented the sugar into an acidic product and therefore appears black and it was originally a dark pink. The bacterium I used for my turtle was originally a whitish color and since it did not ferment lactose it appears to be a light pink.

Painting with or without microbes

I believed too much that my microbe was going to make some fantastic colors for my art, but my faith was misplaced and only one of my works came out okay. The whole piece turned out pretty well and the colors are as good as I can ask for from microbes, so I’m happy with it. The EMB plate made my tree base turn slightly purple and the branches a light gray. I chose the colors based on the way a tree looks covered in snow during winter. The plate did not have much room for me to work with, so a tree was the best I could fit in without ruining the work, otherwise I might have made a different picture.

Painting with microbes

I had real trouble deciding on what to paint on with my microbes. You could say I had painters block. It wasn’t till I was pulling up to lab that I was inspired. I decided to paint stop signs to represent microbes telling us to stop underestimating them.

The first picture is the MacConkey agar plate. For this one I wanted to make a stop sign with  white  edges and letters. To contrast this I wanted to make the middle red. To do this I used the acidic lactose product  producing bacteria Citrobacter freundii  to lower the pH of the middle causing the agar to turn pink. For the white I used  Proteus mirabilis  an ammonia producing bacteria to raise the pH and turn the plate yellow-whitish. Both of these bacteria had to be gram negative since the agar selects for gram negatives.

The second picture is of the eosin methylene blue agar (EMB), which also selects for gram negatives, as well as turning lactose digesting bacteria black or dark red. For this picture I just wanted to make a stop sign with black letters and boarders, using the red agar plate to fill in the red in the middle. The bacteria I used was the  Citrobacter freundii, as it digests lactose and is gram negative.

The last picture is of the TSA plate where I used the red bacteria  Serratai marcescens  to  draw the boarder and letters. I miss judged the size of my letters and the P didn’t really fit.

Painting with Microbes

For my Painting with Microbes assignment, I made 3 different pictures. I painted a cherry on the MAC plate but the end result was very dark and could hardly be seen. I also painted a flower onto an EMB plate, but that one did not grow very well and there was contamination present. My favorite painting was this one of a bumble bee that I did on the TSA plate. I used three different types of bacteria to produce a darker color (the stripes and head), a lighter color (wings), and the yellow body. It pretty much turned out how I expected, except I hoped that the stripes would turn out a darker because there was nothing that would produce a black color.

Ariana: Painting with Microbes

For the different media, I made 3 different animals.   In the end, the only one that I liked the most was this rabbit done on a TSA plate.   It was definitely the most simple design of all the designs I did, which made it a lot easier for me to draw, as well as not having to think of how the colors would change or not change.   In the end, the colors on the other two plates looked about right (with one or two things not really going according to plan, but they just were more complex and didn’t really look like the animals I was trying to draw.

With making my design, I also planned out which bacteria to use.   Seeing as most of the bacteria turn out cream/white or yellow on a TSA plate that doesn’t have indicator dye, the challenge was creating definition between my white rabbit and white snow.   I chose the flava for snow as the opacity was richer and the white more true white.   Then, I chose citrobacter for the rabbit, as the color was a nice translucent cream that seemed fur-like to me.   The part that I thought would really make this piece pop was the S. marcescens, which grows a pink/red.   Effectively, I made an albino rabbit.

For the pieces, I actually wish that I had done the rabbit design for each one and just changed strain type.   I feel that this would have made it easier to see where I messed up on placing bacteria versus how the bacteria interacted with the plate.

The biggest challenge with the dyed media was trying to have a light color, especially with the EMB media.   I found that I didn’t know what shades of red I would get and just hoped the shades would be different enough to reveal form, same with the MAC media, although that one was lighter, and thus easier to see some of the color and form on.

Painting With Microbes

I did several different drawings with my microbes and I think this one turned out the best. I used Citrobacter to make a drawing of a rose. I was surprised that the lines of the rose turned out so cleanly. The Citrobacter turned pink because it was fermenting lactose in the MAC medium and producing acid.

Painting with Microbes

Angry Microbe: A visual representation of my spirit this semester.
Bact(eria) In Black: A tribute to one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) rock bands of all time.

Artistic Intent

The biggest thing I wanted to show was the contrast of the color of the microbes against the hue of the plates’ background. I wanted the background to enhance the image in a way and put it front and center. Two of my plates have decently turned out.

For Angry Microbe, I wanted to vividly show the bacteria’s colors, and I decided to choose the TSA plate as the background since it seemed like the best fit. The reds and the yellow popped out nicely, manifesting the anger in the expression very well. If I had picked the EMB or the MAC agar plates, the colors wouldn’t have stood out as well as it did on the TSA, and the face wouldn’t look as clear as I would have liked.

Bact(eria) In Black is a tribute to one of my favorite rock bands, and for this piece I wanted a darker theme. I chose the MacConkey agar plate for this reason, and surprisingly, the result was very satisfactory, despite the fact that the lightning bolt in the middle didn’t turn out as I had hoped. It was supposedly a yellowish lightning bolt that divides the two sets of letters. Other than that, the background sort of enhanced the theme I was looking for, and the dark letters were big and loud and prominent… just like AC/DC.

Painting with Microbes

My artistic intent was to use the colors of microbes available to make images of common things we see in everyday life which all have a tie to microbes. Microbes play a significant role, both out in nature as well as within other organisms. Two of my plates had a nature theme (the tree was meant to be a weeping birch and the other a mixture of flowers and leaves) while the other was meant to be an emoticon/person. While the Tryptic Soy Agar (TSA) and MacConkey (MAC) Agar paintings turned out as I meant them to, I was envisioning different colors for the Eosin Methylene Blue (EMB) plate. However, I think this difference in color expectation and result is due to the fact that I was likely envisioning how the colors of the three microbes would have turned out using a TSA plate.

On the TSA plate, the bacterium grow and display their natural coloring, as evidenced by the green/yellow coloration of the P. aeruginosa composing the leaves of the tree and the white coloration of the S. enteritis used for the bark.

On the MAC plate, I used the fact that this agar is differential according to a bacterium’s ability to ferment lactose. To form yellow leaves and flower centers, I used P. mirabilis, which does not ferment lactose and thus results in yellow or colorless colonies. For the flower petals, I used C. freundii, a bacterium which ferments lactose and therefore turns the colonies and agar pink in the areas it is grown.

On the EMB plate, I used three different Gram-negative bacteria (C. freundii, N. flava, and P. Mirabilis) to form a smiling emoticon. Even though I made my choices of bacterium based on the colors they present with on TSA, I think this painting still turned out acceptable as it seems I picked two bacteria which ferment lactose to different degrees as well as one that does not ferment lactose. This is evidenced in the different colors the three bacteria present with on this agar type (black and red for the fermenters and pink for the non-fermenter).