Bacterial Art: The History of Petri
✺ Today’s Google Doodle marks the birthday of Julius Petri (1852–1921) whose name is associated with the ubiquitous Petri dish found in every microbiology laboratory, from high schools to research universities. In the late 1800’s, Petri was working for the “father of germ theory”, Robert Koch. At the time, bacteria were cultured in liquid broth. Koch realized the advantage of using solid medium: if diluted sufficiently, individual cells could be spread apart so they could divide in place and form distinct colonies. Koch could then isolate different organisms that gave rise to diphtheria, tuberculosis, cholera and other diseases.
✺ At first, Koch placed the bacteria on puddles of gelatin along the insides of the flask, which could be accessed by a narrow opening. Petri realized that spreading the gelatin on a flat plate with a lid was much more convenient. And history was made!
✺ The humble Petri dish has inspired some beautiful art. The plates below were cultured in the laboratory of Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob (Tel Aviv University). You can admire the fractal fronds of microbes ▶ http://goo.gl/n4aky
✺ Share your petri dish trivia and stories here for #ScienceEveryday !