New to science: March 2014

pineapple hedgehogEach 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.

Summer’s here! Well, maybe not, but it’s certainly felt like it for those of us in the South East of the UK. I, like many of the people who live near me, emerged from the house, pasty-white and bleary eyed, confused by the hot round thing in the sky. Of course, I went to the park – seemly like everybody else in London, many of who were in shorts (too early, guys) – to sit in the grass.

Unsurprisingly, the soil upon which I sat was home to a countless number of bacteria. This month, a new species was added to that list: Hymenobacter ruber. Discovered by researchers in South Korea, H. ruber was isolated from grassy soil in Daejeon, South Korea. Other soil-dwelling microbes described this month include Streptomyces karpasiensis, isolated from the Karpaz National Park, Northern Cyprus and Agromyces iriomotensis discovered on Iriomote Island, Okinawa, Japan.

One of the places that researchers isolated A. iriomotensis was a pineapple field. As we all know, pineapple chunks form a perfect part of any picnic in the park (ideally on sticks alongside cubes of cheddar); this month in New to science, several other snacks have been identified as homes for new microbial species. Potato salad is a picnic staple; an international team of researchers has identified Dickeya solani, a new species isolated from potato plants showing symptoms of blackleg and slow wilt disease. Chinese gherkins (pickles to our American pals), are home to Enterococcus xiangfangensis, discovered by researchers from the Northeast Agricultural University, China. To wash down this tasty fayre, how about some green tea, from which Korean researchers have isolated Chryseobacterium camelliae.

It’s perhaps a little early in the year to see them, but any outdoor picnic (even one that serves pickles, potato, pineapple and green tea) is bound to attract some wasps – the scourge of any outdoor event. This month, a group of researchers from the Czech Republic have identified Vagococcus entomophilus, a new species isolated from the insect’s digestive tract. Previously, members of this genus have been found in a number of locations, including: ground beef, a swine-manure storage pit and common otters.

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!

Benjamin Thompson

Image Credit: Jo Alcock on Flickr
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