Microbiome family portrait


Left-to-right: Aubrey, Emma, Charlie, Kit.

Each of us carries a distinctive population of microflora and fauna on our skin. These are partially heritable and partially environmental, making them a compelling proxy for the hidden and overlapping interaction of nature/nurture elements in raising children.

Additionally, these microbe populations are important for health— part of the reason antibiotic overuse is harmful is that it can reduce the variety of these beneficial organisms.

The personal-microbiome family portrait was made by each family member pressing a hand (or foot, in the case of the baby) into a petri dish. The dishes were then incubated at room temperature until colonies developed (about three days) and then photographed.

Thanks to Dr Diana Machado de Sousa of the microbiology department of Wageningen University for the inspiration and petri dishes.