Microbes Conquering the U.S.

I've had some great suggestions for "Official" State Microbes in comments and via twitter. I'm filling in the map as they come:i-9c9cb28dedf08a1dfeb8abf131426d55-map3-thumb-510x380-40461.png
So far we have:

  • Alaska -- Alcanivorax borkumensis for its oil consumption
  • California -- Ralstonia metallidurans for its gold precipitating qualities (and CA-MRSA as a terrifying runner up)
  • Illinois -- Penicillium roqueforti for its blue cheese making
  • Maryland -- Chlamydia trachomatis for UMD research on the bug
  • Massachusetts -- Escherichia coli for its importance to biotech
  • New York -- Pseudomonas putida, the first organism to be the subject of a patent case, which took place in NY.
  • Ohio (Neil Armstrong's home state) -- Deinococcus radiodurans for its radiation tolerance
  • Oregon -- Giardia lamblia for its hazards to hikers
  • Texas -- Petrotoga miotherma, an oil well dwelling thermophile
  • Wisconsin -- Lactobacillus lactis (the only real one) for its cheese making skills
  • Wyoming -- Thermodesulfovibrio yellowstonii, for obvious reasons

I'm having a lot of fun collecting these! Thanks to everyone who has contributed! As Patrick said in response to some of the microbe tweets:

i-15e4a5332c180901cf399a4bae8e280d-tweeeet-thumb-510x255-40361.pngLet's keep it up until the whole country is covered in microbes!

More like this

Well, Philadelphia was the site of the first major outbreak of Legionnares' Disease, so I guess Pennsylvania gets Legionella pneumophila. Aren't we lucky!?

As long as we're doing disease bugs, Connecticut should get Borrelia burgdorferi since Lyme disease was first recognized there, and Mississippi should get Neisseria gonrrhoeae since the state has the highest per capita infection with the bug of love (http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats08/tables/12.htm).

How about Rhizobium japonicum, the nitrogen fixing friend of soybeans, for the great state of Iowa?

May I modestly suggest that the *national* microbe should be Saccharomyces cerevisiae, brewer's yeast.

Washington, D.C. - Helicobacter pylori. For all the ulcers they give us.

By Emory Kimbrough (not verified) on 02 Feb 2010 #permalink

How about Lactobacillus plantarum for Pennsylvania because of its role in fermenting sauerkraut. Also, I completely support Heather's suggestion of Rhizobium for Iowa

And what of Canada? Psychrobacter arcticus. Yes, it is cold here.

As a native Floridian, I nominate Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri (aka citrus canker). I was hoping to think of or find something with a more positive impact, but I didn't have any luck. Perhaps there's a Floridian biologist out there that knows of one.

Thermus aquaticus, for Wyoming, hyperthermophile found in the Great Fountain region of Yellowstone Park. One of the first such hyperthermophiles discovered. I'd actually prefer an Archaean, but I'm not enough of a microbiologist to find one in a reasonable amount of time. Any ideas?

Whoops, scooped! I could have sworn that wasn't there when I started looking. Sigh.

How about Bradyrhizobium for Iowa (nitrogen fixing symbiont of soybean)

I can't read, apparently. Sorry.

Another for New York could be Geomyces destructans the newly discovered white nose syndrome fungus. This condition affects bats and was first discovered in New York state.

Another for California could be Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis the yeast in San Francisco sourdough bread!

I suggest caulobacter (genus only, unknown species) for New Mexico because of its role in forming Lechuguilla Cave over eons, and that name is shorter than other chemical eater candidates such as leptospirillum and thiobacillus sulfooxidans.

For Tennessee I suggest the soil bacterium with previously unsuspected smarts, Azospirillum brasilense, as described by Gladys Alexandre, an associate professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology at UTennessee Knoxville Jan. 2010

(popular link Science Daily) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143310.htm

I nominate Saccharomyces cerevisiae for California.
By any measure there is far more California wine than California gold.

Ah, yes. Sourdough yeast and wine yeast are both good nominations, fellow Californians. But I'm from gold country, gotta stick by my guns.

i'm suggesting rhizopogon vinicolor for washington state. we grow damn fine trees over here and this little guy and his mycorrhizal buddies have a lot to do with it.

Is it obstructively pedantic to observe that these are probably not Official State Microbes, but rather (presumably) Unofficial State Microbes? Or maybe "Official" State Microbes? (As in "Not actually official, but you know what we mean. Like, emblematic or representative of the state somehow.")

(I'm assuming that the list will not be passed on to any sort of official entity with the power to declare Official State Microbes....)

Ok, I guess the Wisconsin one really is official.

Anyhow, on further thought, these are suggestions or nominations for Official State Microbes, so the unqualified name Official State Microbe is entirely appropriate. So my previous comment is not only obstructively pedantic, but also wrong.


Haha, you have a valid point, wdfw. It's definitely just for fun!