New to science: Bank Holiday Edition

Posted on May 2, 2014   by Jon Fuhrmann

Each month, the Society for General Microbiology publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Here are a few of the new species that have been discovered, and the places they’ve been found. The full papers are available to journal subscribers, but the abstracts are free to read.


As the skiing season draws to an close in the Northern hemisphere, the flocks of Britons who head outside to enjoy the lengthening days – and maybe even the odd bit of sunshine – are growing. For many of us, there’s nothing like a good pint to round off a balmy spring evening.

Others, however, see beer not just as a tasty tipple but an object of scientific interest: a Belgian team have discovered a new bacterium, Acetobacter lambici, in fermenting lambic beer. Unlike other beers, Lambic beer is created by wild yeasts and bacteria. Another previously unknown species was found in a different Belgian brewery, and was promptly named after the potent potable: Gluconobacter cerevisiae. Some bacteria, while not found in alcoholic beverages, use a compound similar to the alcohol found in drinks for nourishment: Thalassospira povalilytica was discovered by a Japanese team in Tokyo harbour, where the ropes are made from polyvinyl alcohols that these bacteria can degrade.

In keeping with the theme of food and drink, scientists in Germany isolated Pedobacter nutrimenti from chilled pork tortellini. It is unknown whether they ate the remaining food after work.

Popular pastimes differ from country to country; while we enjoy our pints, people in Japan may head to one of thousands of traditional hot-spring baths called onsen. In one onsen in Gifu prefecture in central Japan, researchers identified a new species named Crenotalea thermophila. On the hugely popular Korean holiday destination of Jeju Island, meanwhile, Phaeobacter aquaemixtae was discovered by a Korean team where a freshwater spring flows into the ocean.

The search for new species continues unabated further afield, too. Malaysian researchers discovered Novosphingobium malaysiense in mangrove sediments suspended in the Tanjung Lumpur River in Malaysia. Other newly discovered microbes from water bodies around the world include Streptomyces barkulensis, isolated from Chilika Lake, Odisha State, India, and Alloactinosynnema iranicus, which was discovered in the Inche-Broun hypersaline wetlands in northern Iran.

In the southern hemisphere, Vallitalea pronyensis was discovered by an international team at a hydrothermal vent off New Caledonia. These vents, often found near volcanic hotspots, emit hot material into the deep ocean and harbour life far more diverse than the rest of the seafloor. In an environment much more hostile to life, the hardy Paenibacillus darwinianus was isolated from gamma-irradiated soil in Victoria Land, Antarctica.

These are just a few of the new species described this month; you can see the full list at IJSEM. We’ll be back again next month with a host of new ones, look out for us then!