From the bottom of a lake to the world’s highest mountain: new microbes discovered this month

Posted on October 3, 2022   by Charlotte Hartley

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Here are some of the new species that have been discovered and the places they've been found.


This edition of New to Science takes us on a journey around the world, beginning on the north slope of Mount Everest where a novel bacterium was found 5,500m above sea level. The new species, named Paracoccus everestensis as a nod to its place of discovery, contains genes which the researchers believe may impart antioxidant properties. For example, the oxyR gene allows bacteria to sense an oxidative stress signal and then activate its defence systems. These genes likely help the novel strain to adapt to low oxygen levels at high altitudes.

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© iStock/DanielPrudek Mount Everest

Travelling now from the word’s highest mountain to its most southern landmass, another new species of bacteria was recently isolated from an Antarctic lichen. Polymorphobacter megasporae is the newest member of the Polumorphobacter genus and named after the species of lichen in which it was discovered: Megaspora verrucosa. The new bacterium is Gram-negative, orange-coloured, rod-shaped and non-motile.

Elsewhere, two more novel species have been discovered in the rhizospheres of plants. In France, a new Gram-positive species named Streptomyces durocortorensis was found in the roots of an oak tree. Meanwhile, from the roots of a soya bean plant in China came a new Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium belonging to the genus Flavobacterium, named Flavobacterium soyae. Both of these new species are aerobic.

Also in China, researchers identified a new member of the Actinobacteria phylum. DNA analysis revealed that it belonged to a distinct species within the Acrocarpospora genus and so it was given the name Acrocarpospora catenulate. This novel species was isolated from the sediment of Lugu Lake in China, and its bioactive properties may be helpful for understanding the function of actinobacterial communities within the ecology of lake sediments. Another novel species was also isolated from freshwater sediment this month. Fundidesulfovibrio magnetotacticus is a new motile, Gram-negative and curved rod-shaped bacterium which was discovered in Suwa Pond in Japan. The name ‘magnetotacticus’ refers to its ability to synthesise bullet-shaped magnetite nanoparticles – a magnetic mineral derived from the oxidation of iron.

Lugu lake
© iStock/Fang Zhou Lugu Lake

Now back to China, and to one rather unlucky sheep suffering from a respiratory infection. Inside the sheep’s nasal cavity, researchers discovered a novel aerobic, Gram-negative, coccus-shaped bacterium, which was subsequently named Moraxella nasovis.

And finally, sticking with the theme of animals, another four novel bacteria were discovered this month in Australian stingless bees. Three out of four were found to be fructophilic, meaning they are able to ferment fructose and could potentially be used in the production of wine, sourdough bread and pickled foods. One of the new species was given a particularly noteworthy name, Nicolia spurrieriana, after South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spurrier. Read more about the researchers’ decision to pay homage to Professor Spurrier in this press release.