New to science: June 2016

Indigo-guizhouEach month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), 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.

First up: a team of scientists from Germany and Ireland have identified a species of bacteria isolated from Atlantic salmon. The strain was originally isolated from a salmon farm in 1992 after the fish were hit by an unknown disease with high mortality. Analysing the strain’s gene sequence, the authors propose that it is the founding member of a new genus, and they name it Oceanivirga salmonicida.

Microbiologists in Brazil have isolated a novel yeast species, Wickerhamomyces spegazzinii, from the fungus garden of an attine ant nest. The ants (Acromyrmex lundii), have a mutualistic relationship with the fungus, which they feed with plant, flower and fruit cuttings. The fungus in turn provides the ants with food for their larvae. The authors say the species is named in memory of Dr Carlos Spegazzini (1858-1926), “one of the most prestigious mycologists of Argentina”.

Researchers from the Republic of Korea have discovered two novel antibacterial actinomycetes from soil, which they name Rhodococcus pedocola and Rhodococcus humicola. Both strains inhibited the growth of microbial pathogens, including Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus, in tests performed by the scientists.

Also in Korea, the novel swarming bacterium Proteus cibarius has been isolated from the traditional fermented Korean seafood known as jeotgal. Swarming refers to the collective behaviour of the bacteria on a solid surface, and can lead to bacteria forming fractal-like patterns or concentric circles on culture plates.

In the USA, a team of scientists has isolated a new bacterial species from an electrode. The species, which they name Tenderia electrophaga, is able to utilise the electrons from a biocathode to turn CO2 into food, making it an ‘electroautotroph’.

Elsewhere, in Japan, researchers have isolated a bacterium, Fermentibacillus polygoni, that is able to chemically reduce indigo dye. Reduced indigo loses its colour, but only this form will dissolve in water; yarn is then dipped into the solution which travels throughout the fibres as they soak it up.  Once the soaked textiles are exposed to air, the indigo reacts with oxygen, turning blue and reverting to its insoluble form, which traps it inside the fibres. Traditional indigo dyeing in Japan relies on the reducing ability of bacteria, so determining the roles played by different species could help to better understand the dyeing process.

Finally for this month, two new bacterial species have been isolated from hot springs. Fictibacillus halophilus was found in a microbial mat of a Himalayan hot spring in India, while Crenalkalicoccus roseus was isolated from alkaline hot springs in China.

Anand Jagatia

Image credit: Gitane on Wikimedia under CC BY 3.0
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