The American Society for Microbiology recently hosted their annual Agar Art contest using petri dishes as canvases and microbes to create the artworks. Several artworks were presented such as landscapes and superheroes, but the artwork that garnered a lot of attention was a recreation of Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night."
"The artist picked the bacteria they wanted to use based on the different color expressed when that strain of bacteria grows," American Society for Microbiology's Public Outreach Manager Emily Dilger said, according to USA Today.
The artwork was created by Melanie Sullivan using a number of different bacteria to produce a variety of colors. Proteus mirabilis, a bacterium that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs), was used as brown while Acinetobacter baumanii, bacterium that attacks people's immune systems, was used to produce the white color. The blue-green color for the swirls of the Starry Night, was from Enterococcus faecalis that can be found in the GI tract and causes lower UTIs, as well, according to Fox News.
However, Starry Night did not win.
First place was bagged by Mehmet Berkmen and Maria Penil through the artwork "Neurons" that was created using bacteria such as Nesterenkonia, Deinococcus and Sphingomonas, according to the Huffington Post.
— Emma Dalton (@EmmaADalton) October 21, 2015
The place was crowdsourced and depicted an intricate map of New York City, entitled "NYC Biome Map." It was created using 94 squared petri dishes with bacteria that were altered using fluorescent protein and presented using ultraviolet light.
Biome Map of NYC, created by kids and the crew at @genspacenyc #STEM pic.twitter.com/JZyy6w6Ir1 — George Haines (@George_Haines) September 16, 2015
Petri dishes contained agar where the bacteria are supposed to live and grow according to the microbiologists' perspective. The winners were announced in September.