Say it with agar

It’s already the 9th of December. Glögg is flowing and Julbords are full. The question is, at this special time of year, how do we tell our friends and loved ones how we feel?


Microbiologists like me never ask this question because we know, the best way to express yourself is with agar.

Here are some examples from our resident Agar Artist, Marta Veses-Garcia (@Marta_Veses).


How do you become an agar artist?

You just take an inoculation loop and start drawing. Start simple with one type of bacteria and make shapes. Then, you can experiment with indicator plates like mannitol salt agar (the red plate above) which turns yellow when you grow Staphylococcus aureus. If you aren’t very good at drawing like me, you can even put a printed image underneath the plate to help guide you. You should also be on the look out for colourful contamination. We’ve all seen those random pink colonies of Serratia marcescens, well now you can put them in the freezer for the next time you need to say “Happy Christmas” to someone. If you’re interested in the rest of the bacteria above, the cream coloured plates are Brilliance Blue Agar which is an indicator plate. Brown is E. coli, Green is Enterococcus faecalis and yellow is S. aureus. The rest are unknown samples that were found in the environment.

Remember if you love someone this Christmas, you can tell them with agar.



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