Design your own bacteria!

Design your own bacteria!

Weird, wacky and wonderful bacteria for you to play with

Bacteria are tiny living things that can only be seen with a microscope. Around one million bacteria can fit on a pin head! They live everywhere from in the soil to deep underwater.

We've designed our own bacteria! His name is Roger. Roger the bacteria is rod-shaped. Bacteria are normally round, rod-shaped or spiral-shaped.

Roger the rod-shaped bacteria

Roger the rod-shaped bacteria

See that black squiggle in the middle? That's Roger's DNA. Unlike our DNA, a bacteria's DNA isn't tucked up neatly in the middle of the cell.

Roger also has smaller circles of DNA called plasmids. This DNA isn't essential for Roger to survive, but it can be useful. Sometimes bacteria have plasmids that contain DNA which makes them resistant to antibiotics.

It looks like Roger has a tail. This is called a flagella and it helps him to move. Other bacteria look like they have little hairs, called fimbriae. Fimbriae help the bacteria to stick to surfaces.


Rod-shaped bacteria with flagella and fimbriae

We gave Roger a moustache and eyes - bacteria don't have these, but we thought Roger looked better with them!

Design your own bacteria

We've attached two pictures of bacteria to the end of this article - a rod-shaped bacteria and a spiral bacteria. Download and print a picture and colour it in! Be as creative as you like - will your bacteria have a beard? How about sunglasses or a handbag?

Share your pictures with us and we'll put them online! Email a photo or scan of your picture to

This activity was inspired by Manisha Lalloo at Science London.