Cute and cuddly oral microbes

Dr Samantha Byrne, Senior Lecturer in Oral Biology at MDS, was awarded a ‘Committee Favourites’ prize in the 2020 Australian Society for Microbiology Microbial Art Prize.

This year, entries of microbial art made at home were requested, due to the number of ASM members working from home. Entrants were encouraged to submit paintings, macro photography, crochet art or metalwork.

Samantha’s entry was an image of a collection of crocheted oral microorganisms, inspired by The Victorian Oral Microbiome and Lifestyle Study, a recent collaboration between Melbourne Dental School, The Doherty Institute, and the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences. The study aims to better understand how the bacteria that live inside our mouths vary with different lifestyles, diets and backgrounds. Samantha’s crochet collection consists of the most common genus of bacteria found in the saliva of study participants, and a few disease-associated species such as Porphyromonas gingivalis. The bacterial cells were made approximately to scale, with 10 cm being the equivalent of 1 uM.