Biota Beats: What if you could make music from your microbiota?

Biota Beats is a Microbial Record Player designed to convert the microbes of your body into sound.  Biota Beats was awarded a Bronze medal at the IGEM Competition on Oct 31 and demoed at our first Youth Science Initiative event co-hosted by Ginkgo Bioworks in early October.  This was collaborative project with the EMW Street Bio iGem team.  We won a Bronze medal in the community lab category, and the full site for our competition entry can be found here:

Our team built a record player called Biota Beats that can hold a petri dish plated with cultures from the human microbiome. Currently, a still image is taken of the colonies and translated into sound by a program coded by one of our teammates, but the ultimate vision for Biota Beats is real-time tracking of colonies and conversion of a video into sound. 
With Biota Beats, you’ll be able to listen to music from different cultures!

The combination of arts and science captures our imaginations with compelling narratives of initiative and innovation. People go beyond traditional ways to work in whatever medium best fits their skills and messages. By rooting stories in authenticity, people can spark emotion and action, transmit values and information, foster collaboration, and invent the future.

Lifeforms inhabiting the surface of our bodies need a form of communication for people to understand the information those lifeforms contained. What if we can hear the physical attributes of a microbiota? Music, as a universal language, suggests a certain wholeness. Sonification of the microbiome is an attempt to engage the public and provide a better understanding of the random nature of gene expression, cellular changes, and bacterial evolutions. Such an undertaking can bring personal understanding to what is going on with the surface of our bodies.

All work was done in collaboration with the EMW Street Bio Team!  Photos by David Kong

All work was done in collaboration with the EMW Street Bio Team!  Photos by David Kong

Biota Beats
Re-appropriated and hacked Audiotechnica turntable, custom made lasercut acrylic petri dish records, digital camera, microprocessor, custom written code, speakers, LB agar, bacteria from different parts of the body
12" x 12" x 17"


Biota Beats is Featured on Gizmodo!