Coloring with bacteria


Hi all,

I came across this one recently, coloring with Streptomyces Coelicolor:

(Hope this works)

I was curious: has someone here tried this already?


Yes! With Janthinobacterium lividum. We had lots of it in the lab before, but then it eventually died due to negligence :frowning:


Awesome! But also too bad they died.
Was the culture difficult to start/maintain?
And how performant was the pigment?


The culture was very easy to maintain. We did a good job for a while, but then forgot it for about 1,5 months. They are fine for weeks left alone, though! They grow on a standard nutrient agar medium.

We didn’t get to test a lot with the pigment concerning the performance. I was more intrigued by the fact that it grows all over eg. textiles, allowing you to get crazy growth patterns. There is a guy at Waag society who was optimizing the extraction protocol for pigments, but he was reluctant to share :smirk:


There are some startups trying to commercialize this… Eg. Pili, started in a biohackerspace in Paris (La Paillasse).


Cool, thanks for that info!

I wonder how they’d perform when grown on/in (dried) bacterial leather, as I saw some really nice experiments with color here recently. But if that works, you’ll probably have more predictable outcomes.

Or another thought: when the agar medium mixed with the culture is put into CNC-controlled dispensers. Maybe you’ll be able to print illustrations?


I wonder about the bacterial leather as well :slight_smile: The sheets are quite acidic though, so the pH may need to be adjusted. And maybe the sheets soaked in nutrient agar. Then it would require another drying step after the colour bacteria grew.

You should definitely be able to print illustrations like that. Each bacteria would again form an outward growing colony though, so it would not be high-precision. Thin lines would become fat lines, points would become circles. Someone must have already done this. @Elise do you know of any projects?


Hi @TomV and @winnieponcelet,

Here is a manual to print colours with yeast: