Friday, April 30, 2010

Vote for Your Favorite Microbe

Joseph Heintz, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Wisconsin legislators voted this month to pay tribute to Lactococcus lactis by making it the official Wisconsin State Microbe. Why Lactococcus and not, say, Bacillus or Saccharomyces? Because good old L. lactis is the microbe responsible for turning the curdled rennet, milk, and salt mixture into what we've come to know and love as Cheddar cheese. (It is also used in the making of Colby and Monterey Jack.) The honor makes sense, after all, as Wisconsin is the country's number one cheese producing state.

In light of this, the question begs to be asked: What about the other microbes that are just as hard working? Take our poll on the left to decide which microbe you think deserves such an honor. The winner will be featured in our blog on May 7th. The nominees are:
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae -- otherwise known as baker's yeast, for making leavened bread products.
  • Pseudomonas putida -- cleans wastes from sewage water at water treatment plants.
  • Escherichia coli -- lives in the human digestive system and allows us to digest the food we eat. 
  • Streptomyces -- a soil bacteria that is used to treat infections. 

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