Microbiome stock photo fails

Sometimes I come across a stock photo that is unintentionally funny. Here is another one.

An artist’s rendition of how microbes grow in the intestinal tract. Here you can see bacteria circling around microvilli. Or are they shiny pills in straight lines circling around sausages, or decaying fingers in plastic gloves?

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Same villi but different bacteria. It’s a Fecal Microbiota Transplant!


And this one has no bacteria at all. I guess it represents the Germ Free Mouse.


Lab Stock Photos: The Inside Job

A biosafety cabinet is essentially a big box with a window and opening on the front, and an airflow from above that creates a “curtain” of air, to protect both the worker from the materials they are handling, as well as the materials from the worker. It is used for tissue culture, handling biohazardous materials, and sterile work.

It is usually not recommended that photographers crawl into biosafety cabinet to make that perfect shot. But that does not prevent the stock photo industry from doing just that!

So here we go: photos from inside biosafety cabinets. Note that some cabinets have windows on the side, which could explain some of these images. Other pictures might be perfectly explained by a little tripod or a selfie stick. But in most of these pictures, just pretend that the photographer is crawled up in a corner, for a good laugh.

The first photo is from the SafetyAtWorkBlog, where the caption reads: “A researcher works with materials in a biosafety cabinet in the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University. A biosafety cabinet is a safety enclosure that uses HEPA filters and directional airflow to contain pathogens.”


Shutterstock: “Young asian scientist pipetting samples in lab”, Copyright: KYTan:stock-photo-young-asian-scientist-pipetting-samples-in-lab-391395604.jpg

A photo from the same lab worker shows up in Dreamstime, entitled “Young asian scientist performing microbial tests in lab” – credit: Tan Kian Yong:young-asian-scientist-performing-microbial-tests-lab-series-biosafety-cabinet-68361375.jpg

Getty Images, credit: Javier Larrea. The caption reads: “Salmonella cultures in biosafety cabinet, Laboratory of Diagnosis, Departamento de Produccion y Sanidad Animal, Neiker Tecnalia, Instituto de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agrario, Ganadero, Forestal y del Medio Natural, Derio, Bizkaia, Euskadi, Spain”:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.42.19 PM.png

Penn State News:  “Tyler Goralski, a graduate student studying biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, streaks out a bacteria sample at the Pell Laboratory for Advanced Biological Research.” – Image: Patrick Mansell:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 9.47.53 PM.png

AFP Getty Images, found on Daily Mail, in an article about Indonesia and HIV. The caption reads: “Awareness about HIV in Indonesia remains poor despite the fact that more than 660,000 people are estimated to be living with the virus. Pictured is a medical laboratory technician at an HIV care hospital in Indonesia”:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.05.00 PM.png

From 123RF: “Female scientist researching in laboratory, pipetting cell culture medium samples in laminar flow. Life science professional grafting bacteria in the pettri dishes. Photo taken from laminar interior.”. Copyright : kasto:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.13.48 PM.png

Also from 123RF possibly the same model: “Female scientist researching in laboratory, pipetting cell culture samples on LB agar medium in laminar flow. Life science professional grafting bacteria in the petri dishes.” Copyright : kasto:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.17.49 PM.png

From Alamy, “Plate culture in laminar flow cabinet. Biological test laboratory. Fundacion Inasmet-Tecnalia. Donostia, San Sebastian”:Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.20.51 PM.png

Lab Stock Photo Fun – The Scientist and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamlab

Another series of unrealistic stockphotos depicting laboratory situations that are very different from real life.

Freestyle ELISA (123RF):Screenshot 2016-03-12 at 20.50.08

I heart this (123RF)

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Wells of a different color (Dreamstime)

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Gimme all your colors (Shutterstock)

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The wooden rack adds a nice touch

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Cell culture was never this colorful:

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Just pouring some random fluids (Getty Images)

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Stacks of colors (Getty Images)

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Happy glassware (123RF)

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With flying colors (Canstock):

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Success with colors (Canstock):

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Look mommy, what we made in daycare today! (Shutterstock)

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Lab Stock Photo Fail – Mad pipetting skills

More examples of laboratory stock photos – that try to show the exciting world of science, but that did not get all the details straight. In this post, I will focus on pipetting techniques. Or lack thereof.

Alternative pipette-holding strategies, advanced level:

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Tipless pipetting:

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Screenshot 2016-03-15 at 19.56.19No-Touch Pipetting – Let gravity do its work:

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The MultiDripper – 12 tips simply dripping with fun:

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Duo-pipetting is twice the fun:

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Precision pipetting around an airbubble:

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The Amazing Vacuum-Finger – no pipetman required:

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Lab Stock Photo Caption Contest

Continuing on the Lab Stock Photo theme, @GeorgeRocheMBA suggested that I should do a Caption Contest. And so I did last night. Stock photo available at Fotolia by AdobeFotolia by Adobe. Here are the results:

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These were all funny – hard to choose a winner. For me it’s a tie between KatMM’s “Nope still brown” and @Fjlapointe’s “Fecal Transplant”.

Captions for “Three scientists holding glassware with blue fluid”; stock photo found at CanStockPhoto, royalty free stock images.


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I liked @Victorleshyk’s Gargamel one!

Captions for some other photo’s

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Lab stock photo fun – The Pink Tube Collaboration

A nice series of stock photos from Shutterstock/123RF, featuring three smart scientists spending their afternoon looking at a tube filled with pink fluid. Or, as Shutterstock called it, “Three shocked scientists looking at the obtained substance expressing intense emotions”. Here we go:

“Hello, I am a very smart scientist. Today I am pipetting this pink fluid. Not sure I have mastered pipetting, though. But I will keep on smiling.”



“Alright. I got my pink fluid in a glass tube. Now what?”


“I honestly have no idea what to do with this”.

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“Let’s ask my colleagues – they wear ties and safety goggles, so they should know”.

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“So guys, I have this pink tube – what do you make of it?”

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“Well, it’s a tube, and it’s pink and…” “OMG there is an airbubble – right there”

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“Oh, no, there’s another airbubble!” “This is aweful” “I’m so shocked!”

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“This will make a great stock photo for an article in the Guardian”

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“Now, let’s all switch glasses and look under the microscope. ”

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“Make the boss think we are busy.”

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“Boss’s gone. We can relax now”

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“That was fun. Shall we do it again with a red fluid?”

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