New to science: June 2015

Posted on June 16, 2015   by Anand Jagatia

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.

This month’s New to Science post comes in the form of a trio of trios. Let’s start with the discovery of three new halophilic species – microbes that thrive in high salt concentrations. The first is the archaeon Halococcus agarilyticus, isolated by researchers in Japan from commercial salt. Other members of this genus have previously been found in salt lakes, sea salt and fermented fish sauce.

The second species, also discovered by a Japanese team, is the archaeon Halocalculus aciditolerans, proposed to be part of a new genus. It is acid-tolerant (as the name suggests!), and strains of this species were isolated from salt samples that came from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Andes mountains in Bolivia and Okinawa in Japan.

The third halophilic species is the Actinomycete, Prauserella isguenensis, which was isolated from soil samples of the Sahara desert. The name refers to Béni Isguen in Algeria, the source of the soil from which the strain was isolated.

The second trio contains species isolated from animals and plants that are particularly symbolic – in this case, representing love, life and death. The first is Bacillus crassostreae, isolated from an oyster. Oysters, of course, are famously believed to be an aphrodisiac and are often taken to represent fertility and sensuality. B. crassostreae takes its name from the species of oyster it was discovered in, Crassostrea hongkongensis, which was collected on Naozhou Island in the South China Sea.

The second symbolic animal is the stork, a bird we usually associate with new life. According to legend, it is the stork that brings parents their newborn babies in its beak. As well as babies, the white stork is also the source of a new species of Actinobacteria, Corynebacterium pelargi. Scientists isolated bacteria from the trachea of white stork nestlings in Poland – a country where the stork is a particularly important part of local folklore.

The third particularly emblematic source of new microbe species is a plant – the peace lily. The peace lily is often associated with death and rebirth, and is given to people mourning the death of a loved one to express sympathy. Researchers in China isolated a new Actinobacterium, Actinomycetospora rhizophila, from the rhizosphere soil surrounding the lily’s roots.

The final trio contains discoveries from remote or extreme environments. An Actinobacterium, Actinomadura darangshiensis, was isolated from the peak of a volcanic cone called Darangshi Oreum, by a team from the Republic of Korea where the volcano is found.

In China, Rufibacter roseus, a new member of the genus Rufibacter, has been discovered in radiation-polluted soil. This bacterium is so called because its colonies are the colour of a red rose. Strains from this family of bacteria come in a variety of hues, due to the production of carotenoids or other pigments, and can be yellow, orange pink or red.

Lastly, Leeuwenhoekiella polynyae is a bacterium isolated from a polynya (an area of open water surrounded by ice) in the Antarctic. The colonies are golden-yellow in colour and the genus is named in honour of the Dutch “Father of Microbiology”, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

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

Image: Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr under CC BY-ND 2.0