Friday, April 5, 2013

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Closeup of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
When magnified a whole bunch of times,
as pictured above, it becomes apparent that
this little guy and billions of buddies do their business
with a smile after being pitched into the brew kettle.
Oregon has an official state insect and an official state crustacean, so why shouldn't Saccharomyces cerevisiae be the official state microbe? At least that's the proposal of state representative Mark Johnson of Hood River. According to House Concurrent Resolution 12, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is "essential to the production of alcoholic beverages, such as mead, wine, beer and distilled spirits," making it officially worthy of honor and recognition as the state's itsy bitsiest, teeny weeniest symbol.

Scientific Name: Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Translation: "Saccharomyces" is geek speak for "sugar mold" or "sugar fungus," and Cerevisiae means "of beer."
Nickname: Mr. Happy, a.k.a. Brewer's yeast
Purpose on Earth: To magically convert sugar into alcohol
Size: Really, really small; in fact, even smaller than a flyspeck
Economic Impact: Really, really large--$2.4 billion dollars a year in the Oregon craft beer business

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