Trivia

Hard

The First U.S. State With An Official Microbe Was?

Colorado
Oregon
New Jersey
Wisconsin
An electron microscopic scan of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Mogana Das Murtey and Patchamuthu Ramasamy/Wikimedia

Answer: Oregon

You might have heard of official state flowers, animals, or even minerals, but the state of Oregon was the first to have an official microbe. Why an official microbe? Because one particularly special microbe played a particularly special role in helping make Oregon internationally known.

The microbe in question is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s (a.k.a. baker’s) yeast. A bill was introduced in 2013 to declare it the state microbe for its role in the fermentation of alcohol, specifically because of the thriving craft beer brewing movement. The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of craft brewing with the beer culture of Oregon being the most active in the area by far.

A handful of other states have jumped on the microbe bandwagon over the years. New Jersey became the second state to have an official microbe in 2019, Hawaii and Illinois have legislation pending, and Wisconsin, which proposed but did not adopt Lactococcus lactis, a microbe that is critical to the dairy industry and the production of cheese, in 2009.

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