Heather T. Ewald, James H. Brashears III,
Christine N. Huynh, Eric B. Freeman, Michael V. Corvini,
Meghan F. Davis, Elizabeth M. Femenia, Billie R. Hart
and Carl W. Vermeulen

Department of Biology, The College of William & Mary,
P.O. Box 8795; Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
804-221-2230; -6483 (fax)

indentThis work was presented for review at the May 1997 general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology held in Miami FL. The authors have since been notified that this work will, in essence, be adopted as a replacement for Biosafety Level One of the National Institutes of Health (USA), and as a partial fulfillment of the NIH Director's wish to provide a list of organisms that pose no threat to health or the environment (NIH Guidelines - Federal Register 05 July 1994.) This replacement is scheduled to be made in late 1999.




indentThe spirit of this work is to advance safe scientific study of microbiology at all levels of education and research experience. Presently, most school districts and many colleges and universities have neither the time, the appropriations, nor the personnel to devote to mandated review of all project proposals. Thus, to facilitate the safe use of micro-organisms as tools for the study of biological principles, we offer the following lists of micro-organisms as safe for general educational use provided the stipulations of each list are observed. A number of recognized leaders in the field of infectious diseases have helped us in this compilation (see Acknowledgements). This document should thus grant assurance to non-microbiologically oriented lay counselors and mentors that all of the included micro-organisms are safe. Regarding immunocompromised individuals, see Appendix A. The lists are ordered according to maturity levels because many organisms require techniques that would frustrate younger scientists.

indentIt should also be noted that the following lists are by no means complete. A suggested mechanism for declaring additional microbes as safe may be to gain approval from the head of infectious diseases at the nearest Veterans Administration Hospital.



indentGRADE SCHOOL LEVEL and above. List#1a. These micro-organisms are major components of various recognized human foods. Food products are noted parenthetically. These are appropriate for experimenters of all ages. See also CLASSROOM EXPERIMENTS. (Note: if the genus name only is used, then all species within that genus are deemed safe. Also an abbreviated genus name applies back to the immediately previous unabbreviated name.)

BACTERIA: Acetobacter aceti (vinegar), Bacillus cereus (cocoa, tofu), Bac. licheniformis (cocoa), Bac. megaterium (cocoa), Bac. pumilus (cocoa), Bac. subtilis (cocoa, rice natto), Erwinia dissolvens (coffee), Lactobacillus acidophilus (acidophilus milk; yogurt), Lact. bulgaricus (yogurt), Lact. casei (many cheeses), Lact. delbrückii (pickles, soy sauce), Lact. helveticus (many cheeses), Lact. lactis (most cheeses), Leuconostoc (many cheeses), Leucon. mesenteroides (pickles; sauerkraut), Pediococcus (sauerkraut, ensilages, pickles), Propionibacterium acidipropionici (Emmenthaler cheese), Prop. freundenreichii (Swiss cheese), Prop. jensenii (buttermilk), Prop. shermanii (Emmental and Swiss cheeses), Prop. technicum (Edam cheese), Prop. thoenii (Emmenthaler cheese), Streptococcus cremoris (many cheeses), Strep. diacetilactis (sour cream, and butter products), Strep. faecalis (pickles), Strep. lactis (many cheeses, sour milk), Strep. thermophilus (yogurt and many cheeses).

FUNGI: Penicillium camemberti (cheese), Pen. roqueforti (cheese), Rhodotorula rubrum (Prisoner-of-War bread [WW2] (degrades cellulose)), and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baking, alcoholic fermentation), Sacc. uvarum (cider)

indentThese higher (eukaryotic) micro-organisms are common environmental constituents. These micro-organisms are appropriate for experimenters of all ages.

GREEN ALGAE: In essence all photosynthetic forms EXCEPT Prototheca [rare skin ulcers]). Permitted types include: Ankistrodesmus, Bangia, Batrachospermum, Bulbochaete, Callithamnion, Careria, Caulerpa, Chlamydomonas, Chlorella, Cladophora, Closterium, Coccolithophora, Corallina, Cosmarium, Derbesia, Desmids, Dunaliella, Dictyota, Ectocarpus, Egregia, Enteromorpha, Eremosphaera, Eudorina, Fritschiella, Fucus, Gigartina, Gonium, Gracilaria, Hydrodictyon, Iridea, Laminaria, Macrocystis, Mesotaenium, Micrasterias, Microspora, Mougeotia, Nereocystis, Netrium, Nitella, Ochromonas, Oedogonium, Pandorina, Pediastrum, Polysiphonia, Porphyra, Porphyridium, Protococcus, Scenedesmus, Selanastrum, Spirogyra, Staurastrum, Stigeoclonium, Synura, Tribonema, Ulothrix, Ulva, Vaucheria, Volvox, Zygnema

PROTOZOANS: Achnanthes, Actinosphaerium, Amoeba proteus, Amoeba chaos (Pelemyxa), Amphidinium, Arcella, Astasia, Difflugia, Blepharisma, Bursaria truncatella, Chilomonas, Colpidium, Crithidia fasciulata, Cyclotella, Didinium, Euglena , Euplotes, Gregarines, Herpetomonas muscarum, Leishmania tarentalae, Leptomonas pessoai, Navicula, Paramecium , Peranema, Peridinium, Phacus, Prorocentrum, Pyrsonympha, Spirostomum, Stentor, Synedra, Tetrahymena, Thalassiosira, Trachelomonas, Tritrichomonas augusta, Trypanosoma lewisi, Trypanosoma ranarum, Trichonympha, and Vorticella.

LICHENS: All forms are safe.

FUNGI: Basidiomycetes, Dactylaris (snares nematodes), Deuteromycetes, Taxomyces andreanae (taxol producer), Zygomycetes (Mucor)

SLIME MOLDS: All types, including Dictyostelium and Physarum, are safe.