A recent article, by Maggie Koreth-Baker for Nautilus, details the story of the Polymerase Chain Reaction “from a Pink Squiggle to the Human Genome Project”. The article details the discovery of the thermophilic bacterium, Thermus Aquaticus, from which heat-resistant Taq DNA polymerase was obtained.

“This Yellowstone bacterium sparked PCR, one of the great advances in genetics.”

“In the summer of 1966, armed with a grant from the National Science Foundation, Brock and Freeze set out for Yellowstone to collect bacteria that thrives in hot springs. It was the first time Freeze had ever left Indiana. He spent the summer gathering, grinding, and extracting bacteria samples to ship back to Brock’s lab. That fall, Brock paid Freeze $2 an hour to put the samples from the hot springs in culture media, at different temperatures, to see what they would grow. One day, in a sample set to 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius)—a temperature at which Brock, Freeze, and the rest of the world assumed that nothing could survive—Freeze found the pink filaments of a previously unknown bacterium that Brock would later name Thermus aquaticus—literally, “hot water”.”

Following the discovery of this hugely important enzyme came the invention of PCR by Kary Mullis, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993. PCR has continued to advance over the years and now has many crucial uses. From microbial detection to forensics to paternity testing – science wouldn’t be the same without it.

Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2k7EjRh