Weird and Wonderful: Lactococcus lactis

A couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin’s state legislators approved Lactococcus lactis as the state microbe: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/us/16microbe.html

Wisconsin is the only state that has a state microbe. Of course L. lactis is the bacteria used for making cheese and buttermilk. Specifically, for Wisconsin’s sake, cheddar cheese. Makes sense.

I’m glad Wisconsin is recognizing their own identity. It may seem frivolous to get a state legislature involved in a discussion of single-celled organisms, but this is important. Americans don’t think about food enough. The quality of the food, anyway. They think about McDonald’s sure enough, but great food is part of a great culture and we don’t have a national cuisine that is something to be proud of. Wisconsin is taking a stab at creating a culture (no pun intended).

Who’s next? Pennsylvania should take the collection of rumen digestives for her state microbe. Like Wisconsin, we’re a big on dairy. Lots of cows. If we can only have one species, maybe E. coli should be our state microbe.

California should take Saccharomyces cerevisiae for its state microorganism. This is the wine fermentation yeast.

Bacillus thuringiensis should be the state microbe for New Jersey. Or at least it should be used there to get rid of all those Gypsy moths.

What should your state microbe be?

Sue Lange
Sue Lange’s bookshelf at Book View Cafe

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Weird and Wonderful: Lactococcus lactis — 2 Comments

  1. Actually, the California bacterium should be Clostridium botulinum, which supplies the active ingredient for Botox.

    Massachusetts should take all the highly recombinant E. coli as its emblem, to celebrate the fact that, for a brief period, it was the only place in the world where any recombinant lifeform was illegal — which of course includes everything but unmodified E. coli.