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Alexander Fleming is widely known as the brilliant microbiologist who gave the world the miraculous life-saving drug called antibiotic. But he also had an artistic side that is perhaps less well known. Fleming was a member of London’s Chelsea Arts Club, where he tried his hand at watercolor and created compositions that were amateurish at best. But his artistic talents didn’t lie in watercolors or pencil sketches but in another medium—living organism.

Fleming was one of the first scientists to use microbes to create works of art. He painted ballerinas, houses, soldiers, mothers feeding children, stick figures fighting and many other scenes on petri dishes using microbes. Fleming produced these artwork by culturing microorganisms having different natural pigments on petri dishes to create colorful patterns. He used different varieties of bacteria to render colors such as brown, violet, pink, red, yellow, orange and more. With time Fleming’s palette grew richer as he found more bacteria with the colors he needed.

fleming-microbial-art

Some germ art made by Alexander Fleming.

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© Amusing Planet, 2018.


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