New Jersey could become the second US state to have an official microbe and it has a life-saving history.
The senate voted this week to pass a bill recognising streptomyces griseus as the official state microbe, meaning it now only needs the state assembly’s go-ahead for the bill to become law.
The microbe produces streptomycin, an antibiotic discovered in 1943 which tackles diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis, so it has saved millions of lives.
The microbe’s connection with New Jersey is that it was discovered “in New Jersey soil…isolated from the gullet of a healthy New Jersey chicken”, according to Rutgers University.
In their argument for the microbe, the university’s Max Haggblom, Doug Eveleigh and Warhol Science’s John Warholsaid: “Streptomycin has been a major weapon in the war against bacterial infections, shortening and preventing illnesses, alleviating suffering and even averting premature death.
“Streptomyces griseus and the antibiotic it makes – streptomycin – was discovered in New Jersey at the dawn of the antibiotic era, has saved millions of lives, extended human life span, and has dramatically changed and improved the course of world health.”
New Jersey already has a state flower: the common meadow violet, and a state bird: the American goldfinch.
And it appears they’re on a roll – according to NJ.com, a state senator has suggested guide dogs should become the official state dogs of New Jersey.
Oregon was the first state to recognise microbes in their list of mascots – they chose saccharomyces cerevisia, also known as brewer’s yeast, in 2013.