Moldy Mary and mass production of penicillin, 1943

Moldy Mary and mass production of penicillin, 1943

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Credit: RAMON ANDRADE 3DCIENCIA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Moldy Mary and mass production of penicillin, 1943. Conceptual illustration of the role played by laboratory worker Mary Hunt ('Moldy Mary') in the mass production of the antibiotic penicillin. Mary Hunt worked for the Department of Agriculture's Northern Regional Research Laboratory (NRRL) in Peoria, Illinois, USA. She was given the job of buying mouldy food to be used in the mass production of penicillin. This antibiotic had been discovered in 1928 but mass production methods were not devised until the 1940s. A cantaloupe melon was the source of Penicillium chrysogenum, a species that was enhanced to yield 1000 times the amount produced in 1928. The mass production of penicillin saved many lives in World War II.

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