How Agar Art Is Made


Written by Sybil Millar, Communications Advisor for the Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Critical Care and Infectious Diseases programs at Sunnybrook.

You might be familiar with agar plates from your high school science lab – petri dishes filled with agar, a jelly-like substance. Maybe you used them in an experiment to grow bacteria from samples taken around your school, like elevator buttons, door handles or even toilet seats (I remember doing this experiment in high school, and finding that the toilet seats were actually surprisingly clean!).

But, did you know that bacteria and agar plates can be used to create art, too?

In the hospital’s microbiology laboratory, samples taken from patient specimens are grown on agar plates, producing unique colonies and colours. Those culture plates are used to determine the kind of bacteria causing a patient’s infections, helping the care team select the most appropriate treatment.

Often, those colonies and colours can end up resembling art rather than a lab test. In fact, “agar art” is its own art form: for the past three years, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has held an agar art competition, accepting submissions from around the world.

This year, Sunnybrook laboratory technologist Linh Ngo entered that competition after finding inspiration in the Disney film Finding Nemo. “I was amazed at the similarities between the coral reef and the bacteria I work with in the lab, and I wanted to recreate that on agar plates,” she says.

Linh made the agar art in the six steps described below:

Start planning early

Linh says she first had the idea to create agar art of a coral reef last year, but missed the deadline. In November 2016, she started coming up with a concept for her submission. She also loves to draw, so she started sketching ideas. For example, Linh …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada

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