Science Gallery Dublin
Installation, 2015

Your body is an ecosystem, home to a diverse mix of microorganisms. Bacteria have set up house in your bellybutton, in your gut, and on almost every surface of your body. Most of them are harmless, and many of them are beneficial for your health. You need them.

Host reveals the complex community of bacteria that calls your body home — the microbiota. And right now, this community is a major focus for scientists studying the roles of nonpathogenic bacteria in our health. How do bacteria in our gut influence our brain? What makes humans such an attractive habitat for mircoorganisms, and why is that a good thing?

Visitors to the gallery will be invited to swab their bellybutton — used by researchers as a consistent collection point for our skin’s microbial communities — streak it on an agar plate, and come back to see how your single-cell tenants are getting on in their new, Petri dish home.

About the artist: 

Science Gallery Dublin would like to thank the HOME\SICK curators for sparking this idea, as well as the following people for their support, advice, and input: The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute at Trinity College Dublin; Joan Geoghegan and the Department of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin; Elaine Kenny and ELDA Biotech; Rob Dunn and Holly Menninger at the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University.