I am a New Jersey gal. Even when I think I am a California gal or North Carolina gal--there are some things embedded in identity that you can't shake. For example, Bruce Springsteen sang quite convincingly from the stage that I should "get out while you're young"--and I did.
On a long recent drive to NYC my husband (Steve) mentioned New Jersey is seeking to adopt a state microbe. I had no idea. And then he shares NJ is only the second state to put it up for a vote. The first state? Oregon and the winning microbe--was brewers yeast. Saccharomyces cerevisiae proudly represents the many small craft breweries across the state.
Our likely winner here in the Garden State will be Streptomyces griseus, the producer of streptomycin.
Streptomycin was discovered by Albert Schatz, Elizabeth Bugie and Selman Waksman in January of 1944. It was truly remarkable in the breadth of pathogens that it attacked, including Vibrio cholerae (cholera) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), against both of which penicillin, the only other antibiotic at that time, had no effect. The discovery of streptomycin radically changed public health.
This producer of streptomycin (Streptomyces griseus), which was discovered in New Jersey soil and also isolated from the gullet of a healthy New Jersey chicken, was developed at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where its remarkable antibiotic properties were recognized. It was used in the development of large scale fermentation, a novel concept at that time. There had been war-time pressures to increase the production of penicillin via deep tank submerged fermentations. This was successful, evidenced by the general availability of penicillin on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The pressure for enhanced penicillin production continued. George Merck, in assessing needs for penicillin and those for the newly found streptomycin, overrode Merck's scientific board, which was focused only on penicillin, and committed extra funding for a major new project: the production of streptomycin.
Thus streptomycin joined penicillin in the development of the pharmaceutical industry in New Jersey. Within four years of the discovery of streptomycin in 1944, the initial yields in the milligram range were ramped up to 3,000 kilograms per month, a million-fold increase. This enabled animal and human trials by Drs. William Feldman and Corwin Hinshaw, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.--Rutgers School of Environmental and Biologic Studies