Microbes - the earliest form of life on Earth - are those gross organisms that make our skin crawl even though we can't see them. But the American Society for Microbiology is challenging us to rethink how we see these organisms through the Agar Art Contest - an annual competition that highlights the aesthetic side of microbes.

Each year, microbiologists are invited to submit works of art using petri dishes as their canvas and microbes as their paint palette. This year, first place went to Mehmet Berkmen of New England Biolabs, who paired with artist Maria Penil to produce a mesmerizing piece called "Neurons."

Neurons

Here are some other highlights from the competition. The idea might seem gross, but much like the microbes themselves, the collection may grow on you.

Micro-Flower

This selection puns on the term, "microbial flora," by using those organisms to create a flower that's only visible under UV light.

Harvest Season

The materials for this cozy pastoral are probably in your cupboard or fridge right now. The landscape was created using the sorts of yeast used in bread and beer.

A Magic Night

This enchanting homage to Vincent Van Gogh's, Starry Night, has the potential to go viral: it was made using pathogens that commonly lead to hospital-acquired infections.

TREE

You'll need a biohazard suit to climb this tree. The leaves are made of microbes that cause pneumonia.

If you want to see more, the whole gallery is available here.

h/t Live Science