Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Project Time
3 or more days
Key Concepts
Microbiology, biotechnology techniques, genetic engineering

Introduction

Did you know that you can change the genetic code of an organism? This technology is called gene editing or genetic engineering. Using gene editing tools, researchers can delete or modify existing genes in an organism, or even add new ones! With this ability, they can alter the way an organism—such as a bacteria, a plant, or an animal—looks or functions. For example, crops can be modified to become more drought-resistant, or bacteria can be engineered to produce medicine such as insulin. In this activity, you will use genetically modified bacteria to create a painting. Can you guess why the same bacteria species can have different colors?

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is based on the Canvas Kit from Amino Labs.
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Safety goggles
  • Apron or lab coat
  • Nitrile or latex gloves
  • Measuring cup or measuring cylinder (100 mL)
  • Concentrated bleach
  • Tap water
  • Spray or squirt bottle (about 250 mL)
  • Disposable container in which to collect your trash (about 1 L, such as a large, empty yogurt container)
  • Warm environment or a 37°C incubator. Note: A baby wipe warmer makes a good incubator for at-home use. You can also place the agar plates near a clothes dryer to keep them in a warm place.
  • Paper towels
  • Permanent marker
  • Microwave
  • Timer
  • Measuring spoon (tsp)
  • Optional: Resealable bag (0.5 gallon), if you are storing your agar petri dishes overnight
  • Optional: Black light or UV light
  • Optional: Thermometer
  • Printed Streaking and Art Template
The following materials are available in the Canvas Kit from Amino Labs. You can also use the same or similar materials from other suppliers.
  • Resealable bag (0.5 gallon)
  • Petri dishes, 6-cm diameter (4)
  • LB agar powder (1.6 grams)
  • Sterile water (50 mL)
  • Antibiotics (chloramphenicol). Note: If you do not use the Canvas Kit, you will need to use the antibiotics, which work as selective marker for your bacteria.
  • Inoculation loops (small and large)
  • Sterile swabs and sterile toothpicks
  • Colored Escherichia coli bacteria (cyan, magenta, purple). Note: The Escherichia coli strains used in this experiment are non-hazardous and non-pathogenic.
    Materials needed for the  'Create a Painting with Genetically Modified Bacteria' activity.

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Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Project Time
3 or more days
Key Concepts
Microbiology, biotechnology techniques, genetic engineering
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