Hot springs to pickle jars: diving into April's hottest new microbial discoveries

Posted on April 4, 2024   by Clare Baker

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.


Even though our Annual Conference is just around the corner we still have time to bring you the latest discoveries from the microbiology community. So let’s get into the April edition of ‘New to Science’.

Our first stop is the Iheya North deep-sea hydrothermal field in the mid-Okinawa Trough, Japan. Here you will find a novel aerobic bacterium called Methylomarinovum tepidoasis. M. tepidoasis is a methanotroph; it metabolises methane as its source of energy. This bacterium must’ve been goldilocks in a previous life as it only grew on methane or methanol at temperatures that were just right (between 25°C and 56°C).

We’re keeping in heated waters but moving to south-western China to discover Chelatococcus albus, a Gram-stain negative, non-endospore-forming bacterium. C. albus was isolated from a hot spring microbial mat - a multilayered sheet of micro-organisms – in Rehai National Park, Tengchong, Yunnan Province, China. Our microbe is a hardy one, as the temperature and pH of the hot spring were 46 °C and pH 6.62 respectively. The temperature isn’t the only thing that’s hot in these terrestrial springs; the Yunnan province is rich in geothermal resources and has become a hot research area in recent years. Scientists wanted to experience some of this heat and were investigating cultivable bacterial communities in hot springs when they discovered our novel microbe.

Hot spring park in Tengchong, Yunnan of China.jpg
© iStock/axz66

Let’s moove on to some cattle feed and take a look at Lacticaseibacillus pabuli, a facultative anaerobic and rod-shaped bacterium that was isolated from fermented cattle feed from a farm in the Daejeon region of the Republic of Korea. Total mixed fermentation ration (TMF or TMRF) feeds are fermented feeds that have been inoculated with useful micro-organisms and include silage, forage and hay. As our novel microbe was isolated from the microbiome of cattle feed it was given the name pabuli – meaning ‘of feed’.

Moving on from feeding cattle to feeding us and our next microbe. Lactiplantibacillus paraxiangfangensis is a new bacteria isolated from a traditional Chinese pickle. Researchers came across our new microbe while investigating the diversity of lactic acid bacteria. L. paraxiangfangensis joins the genus Lactiplantibacillus alongside 18 other species reclassified from the genus Lactobacillus by Zheng et al. in 2020.

We’re all meeting at Annual Conference in Edinburgh, so let’s try and finish New to Science with a microbe discovered as close to Scotland as we can. Planococcus notacanthi is a novel bacterial strain isolated from a Notacanthus chemnitzii, also known as the snub-nosed spiny eel. This eel was pulled from its life in the depths of the northern Atlantic Ocean, and its skin swabbed by researchers who were studying antimicrobial producing isolates from the microbiome of deep-sea fish.