H. Boyd Woodruff
Soil Microbiology Associates
Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 61, Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences
Membership Type: Member
Throughout my career and into retirement, I have been interested in useful natural products produced by microorganisms. Starting with the discovery of actinomycin, the first antibiotic obtained pure from an actinomycete, which was my graduate thesis project in association with my professor, Selman A. Waksman, my interests initially centered on antibiotics. The scope of my research was greatly widened after the isolation by chemists of cyanocobalamin, vitamin B12, from Streptomyces griseus, an organism obtained from my laboratory. Development of a manufacturing process for it followed, using Pseudomonas denitrificans, also obtained from my laboratory. Since then, my interests have extended to a wide variety of other microbial products, cholesterol depressants, enzymes, flavoring agents, herbicides, and antiviral and anthelmintic agents, several of which have been developed into commercially useful fermentation processes. After 1973, while administrator of company research laboratories in Japan, in cooperation with researchers at the University of Western Australia, I conducted studies on environmental factors that influence distribution of actinomycetes in soils. In my present laboratory, I have been studying the influence of these environmental factors on the efficiency of discovery of new microbial natural products, working in cooperation with academic and industrial laboratories where the chemical steps involved in natural product isolations are carried out.