Experiment 11. Antagonistic Actinomycetes.

A BioTextile impregnated with Mycobacterium vaccae.

A BioTextile impregnated with Mycobacterium vaccae.

Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless and probably beneficial strain of a group of bacteria that also cause tuberculosis

Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless and probably beneficial strain of a group of bacteria that also cause tuberculosis

Streptomyces griseus, a Streptomycin producing bacterium.

Streptomyces griseus, a Streptomycin producing bacterium.

IMG_9693

On the morning of 23rd August 1943 Albert Schatz sat at his workbench and opened is notebook. On page32, in his meticulous cursive he entered the title of his new experiment “Experiment 11. Antagonistic Actinomycetes”. This was to be a key experiment in the discovery of Streptomycin, the first antibiotic that was to prove effective against tuberculosis. Unfortunately for Schatz, his PhD supervisor Selman Waksman, mounted a vigorous and rather unpleasant campaign which led Waksman, and not Schatz, being awarded Nobel Prize for the discovery in 1952, and also through this, he managed to eliminate the PhD student’s role as a co-discoverer from the history books.

These are the early steps for a new work of the same title as Schatz’s key experiment that will use the same bacteria used in his work, namely the Streptomycin producing bacterium Steptomyces griseus and a harmless strain of Mycobacterium. The work will reflect antagonism both within, and far outside of the Petri dish.

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