Deadline for all submissions is October 22, 2019 at 11:59 pm U.S. E.T.

Key Dates

October 22, 2019: Submission deadline

November 4-13, 2019: People's Choice voting on Facebook

November 20, 2019: Winners announced

New for 2019

  • The contest is now OPEN TO ALL! Pieces can be submitted to 1 of 3 categories, each with its own eligibility criteria and prizes (see Contest Details for full information): 
ASM Agar Art Professional is for bioartists and life scientists, including graduate and undergraduate students.
ASM Agar Art Maker is for non-experts who are 13 years old or older.
ASM Agar Art Kids is for those 12 years old and younger.
  • Unlike previous years, each credited artist can be listed on a maximum of 2 submitted pieces.

More Agar Art Content

Questions? Contact

Bring Microbiology to Your Community

In 2015, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) launched the ASM Agar Art Contest to share the beautiful and diverse world of microbes with the public. Our participants have shown us time and again that you don't need to be an expert microbiologist to make beautiful agar art - it's something anyone can create with access to a basic laboratory.

Although our official partners have already been chosen for 2019, we encourage you to host your own Agar Art workshop in your community using our Facilitator's Guide (linked below). To host a workshop, you need:
  • a space that is BSL-1 compliant, such as a high school or college biology laboratory
  • materials and equipment for cultivating microbes (complete list is in the guide)
  • someone with the appropriate experience to lead the workshop  
Since the contest is open to all this year, please encourage anyone who participates in your workshop to submit their work!

How to Create Agar Art: Video Tutorial

Step inside the creative process with Agar Art 2015 winners Maria Peñil Cobo, Mixed Media Artist, and Mehmet Berkmen, Ph.D., Staff Scientist at New England Biolabs. During their multi-year collaboration, Maria and Memo have created astonishing works of art using living microbes. Find out how they meld science and art with this behind-the-scenes how-to video guide.

What is 'agar art'?

Have you ever seen art created in a petri dish using living, growing microorganisms? That's agar art! Creators use either naturally colorful microbes, like the red bacteria Serratia marcescens, or genetically modified microbes, like the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae transformed with violacein genes, as 'paint' and various types, shapes and sizes of agar as a 'canvas.' In fact, the original agar artist was none other than Alexander Fleming himself!

ASM Agar Art Contest 2018, 1st Place. "The battle of winter and spring," Ana Tsitsishvili, Undergraduate Student, Agricultural University of Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia.
In 2015, ASM launched the ASM Agar Art Contest to share the beautiful and diverse world of microbes with the public. Submissions from past years of the contest have been featured in: