The Sound of Microbes

Apparently, microbes like music. This week, I learned that bacteria and yeasts grow better when Raag Kirwani (Indian classical music) is played in their incubator. Except Serratia, although it was not asked which music it would have preferred.

Effect of audible sound in form of music on microbial growth and production of certain important metabolites – Niral Sarvaiya, Vijay Kothari – Microbiology

But do microbes make sounds? They might do in this post….

It all started with a quote from Jack Gilbert in a Wall Street Journal article about the Hospital Microbiome called Designing a Hospital to Better Fight Infection.

“Overnight, the building became alive with all these human bacteria,” said environmental microbiologist Jack Gilbert at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill., who is directing the project.

I used this quote on Twitter, after which Luke Meister @lukedones replied that “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music” was a better song.

Michele Banks @artologica then replied with this funny picture inspired by The Sound Of Music:

The Hills Are Alive With the Smell of Miiiicrobes - Michele Banks

The Hills Are Alive With the Smell of Miiiicrobes – Michele Banks

And that led to a witty Twitter exchange, some of which with the hashtag #SoundOfMicrobes

@artologica: “Beware of E. coli on schnitzel with noodles…”

@lukedones: “When the dog bites//Pasteurella incites//A microbiological disaster …”

@MicrobiomDigest: “The wards are alive, with the stench of microbes”

@artologica: “These are a few of my faaaaavorite bugs”

@MicrobiomDigest: “Bugs on petridishes, with colonization wishes”

After which I got a bit carried away, and came up with some more #SoundOfMicrobes lyrics:

Inspired by “Maria“:
“How do you solve a problem like MRSA?”

Inspired by “Favorite Things“:
“When the bugs bites, when the phage stings, when I’m feeling sick
I simply remember my favorite bugs, featured by Dr. Bik”

Inspired by “Edelweiss“:
“Gut microbes, gut microbes, Every morning you greet me
Small and brown, dirty and down, You look happy to leave me”

Inspired by “Climb Ev’ry Mountain“:
“Isolate every sample, Sequence every bug
Follow microbiome startups, Till you find a new drug”

Inspired by “Sixteen Going On Seventeen
“You are sixteen S rRNA gene, Present in soil and poo
Eager young students, postdocs, PI’s, Will want to sequence you”

Copyright Elisabeth Bik!

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4 thoughts on “The Sound of Microbes

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