New to science: November 2016

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. Here are a few of the new species that have been discovered and the places they’ve been found. 

Let’s start with a discovery from China, where scientists have found a novel Actinobacterium in the faeces of the bird Columba livia. Or, to be more prosaic about things, in pigeon poop. They name the species Microbacterium faecale. Meanwhile in India, researchers have discovered another member of the genus, Microbacterium aureliae, from a moon jellyfish in the Bay of Bengal.


Researchers investigating an archaeological Roman pool in Gafsa, Tunisia, have discovered a bright orange bacterial species, which they call Blastococcus capsensis. The name comes from ‘Capsa’, the old Latin name for the city of Gafsa.

Microbiologists from South Korea have isolated a new microbe from the country’s national flower, mugunghwa or Hibiscus syriacus. They propose the name Niatella hibisci after the plant, which is also known as the Korean rose, and features in their national anthem. Elsewhere in the Republic of Korea, another team has found the bacterium Novosphingobium lotistagni in a lotus pond outside a temple.

Antimony is a metal used as an alloy in solder, batteries and flame retardants. Researchers in China searching for bacteria that could oxidise the metal managed to isolate Flavihumibacter stibioxidans from an antimony mine in the Hunan province. And in Thailand, a team of scientists has discovered the novel species Fervidobacterium thailandense from a hot spring. The bacterium is an extreme thermophile, and is able to grow at temperatures as high as 88˚C.

16492581925_336023f311_zTo round up this month, microbiologists from the Netherlands and Finland have isolated an anaerobic bacterium from the faeces of the world’s longest snake species – the reticulated python. The interesting thing about this microbe, Akkermansia glycanphila, is that it can survive solely on mucins, the proteins that make up mucus.

The full papers describing these species are available to journal subscribers, but the abstracts are free to read. Articles can also purchased individually with the pay-per-view option.

Anand Jagatia

Image credit: Moon Jelly by Andrew Wong on Flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Reticulated Python, Python reticulatus in situ close-up in Khao Yai national park by tontantravel on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0
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