Next time you're playing New Jersey trivia, New Jersey's official state germ is this microbe called...

Streptomyces griseus!

Now why did we exactly need a state germ? Who knows, but the history behind Streptomyces griseus is pretty cool.

When tuberculosis (one of the deadliest pandemics in history) was rampant, this microbe was the answer when Penicillin failed. Out of this microbe, streptomycin was created and used to combat tuberculosis. Thanks to this antibiotic, death rates in the United States began to decrease.

Getty Images

This miracle drug was found in no other, than New Jersey! It was discovered in 1916 Selman Waksman, a microbiologist and biochemist at Rutgers University. He found that it contained a bacteria killing substance, which he later isolated in 1943 with Albert Schatz. Together the two men created the first antibiotic made from American soil AND cure one of the deadliest diseases of all time.

The discovery streptomycin and Streptomyces griseus proves itself to be a big part of New Jersey history and deserves its title as New Jersey's state germ.

By the way, New Jersey isn't the only state to have a state germ. Oregon's state germ is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is brewer's yeast...that is used to make beer.

Read the full history of streptomycin and get to know your state a little better through The Daily Beast and/or Philly Inquirer. 


More from SoJO 104.9: