New to Science: July 2014

Posted on July 14, 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.

While summer is well and truly upon us in England, many of us are staying in to watch the plethora of fantastic sporting events that are keeping us glued to our television sets. While Wimbledon and the Tour de France brought numerous world-class athletes onto British soil, the football World Cup in Brazil will nevertheless remain the focal point of global attention until its conclusion on Sunday 13 July.

Despite the proceedings in the country’s stadia, Brazilian scientists remain hard at work cataloguing our planet’s microbes. In the Amazon rainforest, researchers from Rio de Janeiro teamed up with colleagues from Belgium and Australia to identify Bradyrhizobium manausense in cowpea, an important food crop in the area. The new species is named after Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon rainforest (and the site of England’s defeat to Italy in the World Cup).

Other plants have also been shown to harbour previously unknown microbial life. Bamboo plants in Damyang, Korea were found to harbour Reyranella graminifolii, while Alicyclobacillus cellulosilyticus was discovered on steamed Japanese cedar chips in Gobo, a small town in Japan.

The Svalbard archipelago in the high Arctic has also been shown to contain an abundance of new species. Chinese researchers based in the town of Ny-Ålesund identified Spirosoma arcticum and Pedobacter huanghensis from the rocky glacier foreland near the Midtre Lovénbreen glacier. Arcticibacter pallidicorallinus, meanwhile, was isolated from glacier ice from the poetically named Xinjiang No. 1 Glacier in the Tian Shan mountains in far northwestern China.

However discoveries of microbes were not restricted to the outsides of mountains this month. In a phosphate mine in southwestern China, a team of Chinese scientists discovered Novosphingobium kunmingense, while Aquisalimonas halophila is a new species isolated from a hypersaline mine in the same area.

Moving away from these geological germs, Chinese researchers have isolated Saccharicrinis carchari from the gills of a dead shark caught in the Yellow Sea, German scientists discovered Vespertiliibacter pulmonis in the carcasses of European bats dissected for post-mortem research purposes, and finally, in a leafy suburb of Madrid, Spanish researchers took samples from healthy wild rabbits and isolated the new species of Streptococcus cuniculi.

To bolster the summery mood in Britain, there is nothing like a good picnic. There are few limits to what a picnic basket may contain to ensure a good day out, although raw camel milk is unlikely to make it onto too many British shopping lists. This was not to deter a team from Morocco and Belgium from investigating this nutritious drink – their reward was the discovery of two new species: Streptococcus moroccensis and Streptococcus rifensis. However, Acetobacter sicerae was isolated from both cider and kefir, making it much more likely to feature in European summer refreshments.

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!