Image of the Day: Hand Microbes

Microorganisms grown from a researcher’s hand are being used in an art contest.

Emily Makowski
Oct 16, 2019
Hand microbes growing on an agar plate

Cat Bishop, a research scientist in Adam Duerfeldt’s lab at the University of Oklahoma, studies how to treat antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile bacteria with chemical probes. To make art for the American Society for Microbiology’s annual agar art contest, she wanted to grow other varieties of bacteria, so she cultured the microbes growing on her own hand.

“When I saw it after 48 hours incubation, I thought it was beautiful and decided to post it [on Twitter] to brighten fellow scientists’ Mondays with the caption, ‘Waving good Monday morning to ya from my LB-lovin’ hand flora!’” Bishop tells The Scientist in an email. The team has not formally identified these bacteria, but Bishop sees Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus species along with a yeast colony near the center of the plate.

“I think this cool side project is a good representation of the collaborative and curiosity-driven vibe in our lab group,” says Bishop. Submissions for the agar art contest, which has categories for scientists and non-scientists to submit their work, are due October 22. 

See “Image of the Day: Agar Art

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at