Microbes and Art

Pseudomonas, antimicrobial resistance, microbes win, microbes and art

Human Hand Controlling Bacterial Biofilms
Credit: Lydia-Marie Joubert, Stanford University

Despite the many similarities, science and art don’t intersect nearly as often as they should. It’s very much like Einstein once said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”, after all “logic will get you from A to B but creativity will take you everywhere”.

A great example of where Science and Art do intersect is Sience’s annual Science and engineering visualisation challenge organized. From the last edition we are sharing this beautiful image: ‘Microbes Win”

We try to control microbes, but the unseen world remains victorious

In our quest against bacteria, the microbes are winning. Antibiotics have long been the miracle drug, but bacteria have swiftly adapted and are becoming more and more resistant to modern medicine. It is that urgent message that is written in this image of a human hand covered with Pseudomonas bacteria. Those colored green have adapted to survive an antimicrobial treatment, colored green are the bacteria that are susceptible to our antibacterial drugs. Only a rare few are red, indicating that they have been vanquished.

The image was created by Lydia-Marie Joubert, an electron microscope specialist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. It won the people’s choice award in the illustrations category of the last edition of  the ‘Science and engineering visualisation challenge’. That – from all other entries – this image won the people’s choice award is a good illustration on how urgent the public considers this subject.

“We try to control microbes,” Lydie-Marie Joubert in Science, “but the unseen world remains victorious.”

Her illustration — a hand covered with Pseudomonas bacteria — is titled Human Hand Controlling Bacterial Biofilms. The journal Science explains it began as a photo: “While attending a conference in Wales,  Lydia-Marie photographed a 1.5-meter-high human left-hand that reaches out of the ground in the Gregynog Hall gardens, sculpted by Francis Hewlett (a British artist red.). She then overlaid fluorescent microscope images of cultured biofilms that were treated with antimicrobials. The used probes/stains are indicators of cell health. Death cells color red, while healthy cells color green

Link to the full list of winners from the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.