Happy 100th to UW Bacteriology!

It’s hard to believe, but the University of Wisconsin Bacteriology Department was founded 100 years ago! With roots in agricultural applications, the department grew into varied fields such as biotechnology, pathogenesis, and molecular genetics. Throughout the past century, they continued to follow the Wisconsin Idea – that research at the University should benefit the people of its state. We’d like to highlight a few contributions of the Bacteriology Department relevant to our own research in applied microbial ecology. For the full list, check out the department website!


H. Russell and E.F. Turneaure (from the Dept. of Engineering) collaborate to show that the causative agent of typhoid fever in rivers and canals did not contaminate the St. Louis water supply. They also studied the survival of bacteria in various sewage treatment methods in Chicago.


Thomas Brock discovers Thermus aquaticus in the extreme ecosystem of hot springs. This leads to the discovery of a heat-resistant polymerase used in PCR, a vital technique in biotechnology and research.


V.K. Shah and W.J. Brill identify the active site of the nitrogenase enzyme, responsible for the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen gas to ammonia.



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