What's in a name? Our favorite additions from 'New to Science'

Posted on September 27, 2023   by Clare Baker

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Our ‘New to Science’ blog explores the latest discoveries of microbiological discoveries highlighted in IJSEM.   

In celebration of the Microbiology Society delivering ‘What’s in a Name? Fit-for-purpose bacterial nomenclature’ as part of its Focused Meetings programme in 2023 we thought that we’d share our favourite additions from each of this year's ‘New to Science’'.

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From parasites to plastics: new microbes discovered this month

It's a big month for Wrexham as not only did their men’s football team draw against Sheffield United, they were also the origin of a new bacterial discovery. Solid waste was sampled from Wrexham and Rouaben landfill sites and their communities of micro-organisms analysed. The sugar fermenting novel bacteria Lutispora saccharofermentans was then isolated from the sample. The discovery of this new bacteria bring scientists closer to understanding the functional diversity, and physiology, of landfill microbiota and working towards a future sustainable bio-based economy.

From lotus flowers to fishy mouths to the Mariana trench: explore this month’s diverse microbial discoveries

This month we are starting somewhere a little bit fishy; the mouths of yellow-eyed penguin chicks in New Zealand. Here we find two strains of Corynebacterium which together represent a novel species, Corynebacterium megadyptis. The unfortunate penguin chicks that manage to be infected by C. megadyptis suffer from infectious lesions in their mouth, producing a thick cream coloured fluid. This makes it hard for the ill-fated chicks to swallow food, resulting in exhaustion and significant weight loss due to malnutrition and sadly an untimely death. 


From cats to crustaceans: new microbes discovered this month

The second animal to feature on this month’s whistle stop tour of microbes which are new to science is a known fan favourite, Apis melifera, or you might know it by its common name – the honeybee. Our new bacteria, Bifidobacterium mellis is found in the honey stomach of these bees. The honey stomach is part of the bee’s digestive tract and is used for the collection and transportation of nectar to the hive. It plays a key role in the production of honey and ‘bee bread’ – a pollen and honey mixture which acts as a source of food for worker bees and larvae. This new bacteria joins the genus Bifidobacterium, a symbiotic lactic acid bacteria present in all recognised honey bee species. Not only is this highly co-evolved genus important in bee food production, it also plays an important role in the bee immune systems.

Pigs and squid: new microbes found this month

We’re finishing this week with something a bit freaky. Lolliginicoccus levis is a new bacterium isolated from the brain of a Chiroteuthis picteti squid. This poor squid became stuck at a depth of 374 metres in a deep seawater pumping facility in Muroto City, Kōchi, Japan. Not only had the squid been stuck for two days in the facility, but each part of the squid was then mushed or cut into small pieces. Researchers have not only assigned L. levis to a brand-new genus but have also reclassified two other species which previously belonged to the genus Hoyosella. The two previously discovered species, Lolliginicoccus suaedae and Lolliginicoccus lacisals will join L. levis in the genus Lolliginicoccus.

To the Himalayan marmot and beyond: new microbes discovered this month

We need to look down to the soil for our next novel microbe. Massilia agrisoli was isolated from the rhizosphere of a banana plant in Dighalgram, Magura, Bangladesh. The plant rhizosphere bacterial community is a regular feature of ‘New to Science’ and is home to many of our newly discovered microbes. The rhizosphere is the soil surrounding the root of the plant that is affected by its biological activities and is home to a community of bacteria called a microbiome. Our newly discovered microbe joins the species Massilia, which has been found in an array of ecological niches, including human clinical specimens, drinking water and even ice cores. 


Deadly and diverse: explore the new microbial discoveries published this month

For our next microbe, we look to some Danish ducks - Muscovy ducks to be exact. While researchers were screening for Pasteurella multocida, a new species of bacteria was discovered. Interestingly, the new species, Mannheimia cairinae was found in two unrelated flocks. This new discovery has also necessitated the reclassification of another species in the Mannheimia genus. Researchers have proposed that Mannheimia ovis is reclassified as a later heterotypic synonym (a term microbiologists use to refer to a name derived from different specimens) of Mannheimia pernigra, since M. ovis and M. pernigra are closely genetically related, and M. pernigra was validly published before M. ovis.

Taxonomic treasures: reclassified microbes and glacial discoveries

Now on to something that might be a little bit easier to get your head around – modified atmosphere packages of broiler meat.  These are packages for poultry products containing gases to help preservation, in this case nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Scientists were researching the spoilage microbiomes of these packages when they came across two new microbes, Vagococcus proximus and Vagococcus intermedius. These novel species join the genus Vagococci which are found all over the place! They have been detected in humans as well as, seals, otters, martens, harbour porpoises, salmonid fish and snow finches. Several members of the genus have been reported harmful to their host; Vagococcus fluvialis and Vagococcus lutrae can cause nasty infections in humans. One member of the genus however, V. fluvialis, can actually protect their fish hosts from disease.

The new kids on the microbial block: exploring Vogesella to Ruegeria  

Welcome back to New to Science. Shall we start this month’s edition with a margarita? This one isn’t a pizza or a cocktail but Vogesella margarita, a new species of bacteria isolated from rivers in Southwest China. V. margarita, which gets its name from the pearl like appearance of the colonies on agar plates, is joined by Vogesella aquatica, another new species isolated from Chinese rivers.