2016 ASM Agar Art Contest

1st Place

"The first race," Md Zohorul Islam, Graduate Student, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
"The first race," Md Zohorul Islam, Graduate Student, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Fertilization is the first competitive event of plants and animal life. It is a process involving the fusion of male and female gametes to form a zygote. Millions of spermatozoa race and compete to be the first to penetrate the egg, but only one of them finally meet the egg and create zygote leading to the development of embryo. 

In this artwork, I used four bacteria as paint and a selective agar medium as canvas. The red colored paint was Staphylococcus aureus, which is an opportunistic pathogen in both humans and animals. The green color was Staphylococcus xylosus, is a commensal organism in human skin, and the white was Staphylococcus hyicus, an animal pathogen responsible for grassy pig disease. The yellow colored organism was Corynebacterium glutamicum, a non-pathogenic but industrially important bacterium for production of amino acids such as L-glutamate and L-lysine. Other colors were from mixture of two or more of these four organisms."


2nd Place

"This is not a beer!," Mariarosaria Marinaro, Erika Grandolfo, Cristiana Catella, Livia Bodnar, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.
"This is not a beer!," Mariarosaria Marinaro, Erika Grandolfo, Cristiana Catella, Livia Bodnar, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.

"Some Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are referred to as MRSA  since they are resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics. These “superbugs” are real threats to human and animal health. Staphylococci possess an enzyme, called catalase, which converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. In particular, the MRSA isolated in our lab was grown on agar and then treated with hydrogen peroxide to produce a foam (i.e., oxygen production). The catalase-positive MRSA was therefore used to evoke a beer through its image. Our piece of Agar Art  took inspiration from the scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski (“The map is not the territory it represents”, 1931) and from the surrealist painter René Magritte who drew a pipe with the caption Ceci n’est pas une pipe meaning that  the image of the pipe is not a pipe (The Treachery of Images, 1928-1929). The work presented here stems from a simple catalase reaction; nonetheless it expands Korzybski’s and Magritte’s work to the bacterial world. It also represents our attempt to reach a synthesis between Science and Abstraction, Metalanguage and Microbiology.  The Agar Art plate was prepared during a Microbiology Class addressed to High School Students  from Liceo Enrico Fermi and Liceo Gaetano Salvemini, Bari, Italy."

All 2016 Finalists


3rd Place

"Twelve Years of Yuck," Laura Bryan, Sara Lawhon, Sara V. Little, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States.
"Twelve Years of Yuck," Laura Bryan, Sara Lawhon, Sara V. Little, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States.

"Microbial pathogens were painted with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and Escherichia coli MG1655 on Hektoen enteric agar to yield black and yellow colonies, respectively. Salmonella spp. produce hydrogen sulfide which precipitates thiosulfate and ferric ammonium citrate in plates. E. coli ferments sugars and acidifies the agar, causing the yellow color change. Salmonella spp. and E. coli are enteric pathogens, although they can be a part of normal microflora in some species. Microbes are often in balance with their environment and other pathogens, but to everything there is a season and outbreaks occur every year. We designed a 12-year calendar which represents significant human outbreaks that occurred from 2005-2016. Although pathogenic, some of the depicted organisms can be beneficial for humans. For example, Salmonella spp. have the potential to be used as new treatments for some cancers and E. coli produces vitamins K and B6 in the intestine of mammals. Thus this work represents the delicate balance of microbes, their hosts and the environment."

People's Choice

"Bacterial Shadow of Wolf," Barış Halaç, Graduate Student, Sevgin Can, M. Cemal Adiguzel, Nilufer Erzaim, Istanbul University Veterinary Faculty Department of Microbiology, Istabul, Turkey.
"Bacterial Shadow of Wolf," Barış Halaç, Graduate Student, Sevgin Can, M. Cemal Adiguzel, Nilufer Erzaim, Istanbul University Veterinary Faculty Department of Microbiology, Istabul, Turkey.

"Bacteria can produce biofilm formation when they under threat like hostile immune system in order to protect themselves  from harmful conditions. When it happens, a differentiation  of the gene regulation reflects as a change in behaviour. To this end, individuals must behave not only for their but also the group’s benefits . Some members of the company don’t make an effort for the construction of biofilm but they still bask protection of it.
This strategy seen in wolves that hunt together. When the game begins, some wolves are more active to get the prey and take more risks whereas the others spend less energy but at the end, all members of pack shares the food."

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