New to science: July 2013

Posted on July 4, 2013   by Benjamin Thompson

Each month, the Society for General Microbiology publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, which details newly discovered species of bacteria and 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.

Stinky tofu is a popular Chinese snack that, according to Wikipedia, has ‘a strong odour’. Researchers from the East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, have discovered a new species of Lactobacillus living in a sample of stinky tofu brine, which was collected in 2009. The species has been given the provisional title Lactobacillus curieae sp. nov.

You might think that naturally uranium-rich soil might prove a challenging environment for a bacterium. Not for Microbacterium lemovicicum sp. nov., which has been discovered living in such soil near Limoges, France. The species, whose name relates to the medieval latin name for the city, was uncovered in soil containing 14860 ppm of uranium – much higher than the usual level of about 3 ppm.

The Catacomb of Callixtus was built under Rome in the middle of the second century and is the final resting place for many popes and Christian martyrs. The catacomb is also home to Sphingopyxis italica sp. nov., which was discovered by Spanish researchers, isolated from the walls of the catacombs, made of ‘tuff’, a type of volcanic rock. This new species is the first member of the Sphingopyxis to have been isolated from a subterranean environment.

If I were looking for a new species of an anaerobic bacterium, the first place I would look would be the intestine of the Chinese bushbrown butterfly (Mycalesis gotama Moore). Brilliantly, a team of researchers from the Kyun Hee University, South Korea, have done just that and discovered a new species: Gibbsiella papilionis sp. nov. This bacterium is in rare company as only two other species of the genus Gibbsiella have been identified, one from diseased oak trees and one from the mouth of a bear.

Members of the genus Mycetocola have been found in some pretty diverse locations, including rotting oyster mushrooms, Reblochon cheese and desert sand. Recently, a new member of the genus has been discovered: Mycetocola miduiensis sp. nov. The bacterium, identified by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, was isolated from the topsoil of the Midui glacier in Tibet. While the optimal growing temperature for this species is between 20 and 25° C, it can grow quite happily at 0° C.

These are just a few of the new species described this month; you can see the full list at IJSEM. We’ll be posting new species each month, so stay tuned!