Eastman Dental Institute


UCL Eastman photo wins Photosynthesis 2015 competition

22 October 2015

bee on a swab

A beautiful photograph of a bee has won a School of Life and Medical Science's competition while drawing attention to the vital hunt for new antibiotics.

Bee on Swab by Dr Morgana Vianna took first place in the Basic Research and Discovery section of the Photosynthesis 2015 contest:

Dr Vianna said: "The need to discover new antibiotics is incredibly urgent and the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria is currently considered one of the greatest challenges of our time. Most antibiotics are produced by bacteria or fungi which could live virtually anywhere on Earth.

"The recent crowdfunded “Swab and Send” project at UCL asked participants to swab interesting places in order to isolate bacteria which may produce new antibiotics. While I was participating I was lucky enough to be able to get a honey bee to cling to my swab and to be able to photograph it.

"The bacteria on the bee’s body may hopefully produce some interesting compounds which could help in our fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria. These are now being analysed in the microbiology labs and hopefully we can discover a new antibiotic; we just may be able to get a compound from bee to bedside.

"The image demonstrates clearly how the starting point for basic research and discovery is often not in the laboratory but in our everyday environment, we just need to be prepared to look."