How many different species should not appear in the photo below?
One biologist cultivated the microbes that were in her eight-year-old son's hand - and the result is wonderful
Even if you have no children, you were once a child to know what parents often say when little ones finish playing on earth. It's a fact: the first thing they say is to wash their hands. But if the mother in question is a scientist who is also in the mood for a joke, before sending the kids to the sink, she might as well come up with a petri dish and ask them to put their hand there in that nourishing substance. After some time of cultivation, the result would look very similar to the picture below - an incredible exuberance of fungi and bacteria thriving in multicolored colonies.
Most microbes do us no harm and live in harmony with us.
This is exactly what microbiologist Tasha Sturm, a laboratory technician at Cabrillo College, did. After her eight-year-old son returned from the garden, she collected the microbes in his hand and allowed them to grow freely over the years. She was already doing this with her eldest daughter until the girl's hand got too big for the petri dishes. As much as colonies grew and developed, the shape of the hand and fingers was preserved - and Sturm used microorganisms to illustrate his university lectures. “My kids think it's cool, and so do the students,” he told Smithsonian Mag.
These are the microbes that were in a child's hand after playing in the garden.
Before you feel a little afraid of the idea of all these microbes living in your hand, be aware that most of them do no harm to your health and often live in full harmony with us. So you can rest easy and think only about the beautiful side of the photo. In early June, it was posted on the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) Facebook page and had nearly 14,000 likes and shares. Prior to that, Sturm had published the image on the MicrobeWorld.org website, run by the same organization.
To accurately identify each species on the plate, more specific analysis would be needed, but the scientist risked some guesswork in the comment session. White colonies, Tasha says, are probably forms of staph, bacteria that live on people's nose and skin and are often harmless or even beneficial, but some can cause disease when they grow up where they shouldn't - especially if they develop antibiotic resistance. She also posted two close-ups that should show either bacilli, a type of bacteria common in soils (but one species causes foot odor), or a form of yeast.
This one down here is that little ball in the upper left corner of the picture, out of hand. Probably she was not in the boy's skin and is an external contamination. Notice your complex channel system:
Microbe that gave rise to this colony was not in the boy's hand
One of the largest plaque colonies, probably a type of bacillus