Mind

Stupid Science Word of the Month: Shmoo

Shmoos are essential: without them, we would have neither bread nor beer.

By Jessica MarshallNov 8, 2007 6:00 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

shmoo\’shmü\ n. [akin to schmo, from Yiddish schmuck, meaning penis or fool] (1974):  A yeast cell preparing to mate.

When ready to have sex, a yeast cell looks like an elongated pear, a shape like Al Capp’s 1948 Li’l Abner character, the Shmoo. The cell shows its mating protrusion (the shmoo tip) in the presence of the pheromone “Kickapoo Joy Juice,” anotherLi’l Abner knockoff. The word “shmoo” has appeared in nearly 700 science publications since 1974; it is used in labs studying the bread- and beer-making species Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Magazine Examples
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.