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!


  1. #1 Jonathan
    February 2, 2010

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

  2. #2 Joe
    February 2, 2010

    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).

  3. #3 Heather
    February 2, 2010

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

  4. #4 chezjake
    February 2, 2010

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

  5. #5 Emory Kimbrough
    February 2, 2010

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

  6. #6 KHorn
    February 2, 2010

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

  7. #7 TBnsuch
    February 2, 2010

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

  8. #8 JasonTD
    February 2, 2010

    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.

  9. #9 Tamara
    February 2, 2010

    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?

  10. #10 Tamara
    February 2, 2010

    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)

  11. #11 Tamara
    February 2, 2010

    I can’t read, apparently. Sorry.

  12. #12 Sara
    February 2, 2010

    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.

  13. #13 Sara
    February 2, 2010

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

  14. #14 david
    February 3, 2010

    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.

  15. #15 david
    February 3, 2010

    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

  16. #16 Dan L
    February 3, 2010

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

  17. #17 Erin
    February 3, 2010

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

  18. #18 cupcake
    February 3, 2010

    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.

  19. #19 wdfw
    February 3, 2010

    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….)

  20. #20 wdfw
    February 3, 2010

    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.


  21. #21 Christina
    February 4, 2010

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

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