The Process

The process from plasmid design to work of art!

The yeast colors are first built on a plasmid with a pigment gene. This plasmid also gives an antibiotic resistance.


The plasmids are then transformed into yeast strains where the colors can be expressed and grown on the appropriate antibiotic.

 
Various yeast colors in our palette. From left to right: white (wild type yeast with our selective marker), gray (violacein), black (violacein), light yellow (beta-carotene), dark orange (beta-carotene), light orange/dark yellow (beta-carotene), pink (RFP), purple (amilCP from coral), blue (anemone gene). Yeast pigments curtesy of Leslie Mitchell and Michael Shen. 

Various yeast colors in our palette. From left to right: white (wild type yeast with our selective marker), gray (violacein), black (violacein), light yellow (beta-carotene), dark orange (beta-carotene), light orange/dark yellow (beta-carotene), pink (RFP), purple (amilCP from coral), blue (anemone gene). Yeast pigments curtesy of Leslie Mitchell and Michael Shen. 

 
A variety of colors created by beta-carotene-producing yeast Leslie Mitchell and James Chuang et al. /Nucleic Acids Research

A variety of colors created by beta-carotene-producing yeast Leslie Mitchell and James Chuang et al. /Nucleic Acids Research


The pieces are then designed using a drawing tablet to digitize the image.

New York City sunset drawn using a tablet, Jasmine Temple

New York City sunset drawn using a tablet, Jasmine Temple


The digital image is put through a program that breaks the image down to RGB color values that match to yeast colors we have in our stock. The program then yields an image and CSV file that can be printed with yeast!


The CSV file is then given to the Labcyte Echo 550, which uses acoustics to shoot precise nanoliter droplets onto a rectangular agar plate in the pattern from the CSV file. The plates are 192 pixels by 128 pixels, so the image can be made up of up to 24,576 droplets!


The plate is left to grow at 30˚C until the pigments begin to emerge, then placed in a cold room to intensify! 

 

Two days at 30˚C

Two days at 30˚C

After 14 more days in a cold room at 4˚C

After 14 more days in a cold room at 4˚C