Are you baffled by the advent of so many new species of bacteria, most carrying unusual names? Let me throw a few at you: Adlercreutzia equolifaciens subsp. celatus, Bacillus velezensis, Buttiauxella agrestis, Cupriavidus basilensis, Curtobacterium, Hypomesus nipponensis, Neisseria mucosa, Rhodococcus qingshengii, Streptomyces cavourensis, Variovorax paradoxus.
To start with, you may ask: where on Earth did I find them? Let me assure you that I didn't run into them them by searching the literature. Like you, I have better things to do with my time. Instead, I encountered them when scanning the table of contents of the ASM publication Microbiology Resources Announcements. The above list of bacteria comes from the current issue of that journal.
The intent of said publication is not to provide its readers with collections of novel species names. Au contraire, it is the repository of articles that announce – among other things – the availability of metagenome sequences, amplicon collections, and metabolomic data of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes and viruses. But in so doing, it must list the organisms involved, thus revealing their names, old or new. In addition, each entry carries a brief introductory paragraph that gives you at least an idea of the properties of the organism. For example, it says that:
Adlercreutzia equolifaciens subsp. celatus DSM 18785 was isolated from the cecal contents of a rat and is an obligately anaerobic equol-producing bacterium. Here, we report the finished and annotated genome sequence of this organism, which has a genome size of 2,929,991 bp and a G+C content of 63.2%.
Well, this may be a case of unintended consequences, but it may turn out to be a useful one.
by Janie and Christoph
When it comes to 'strange names' for bacteria − and there are quite a few, see above − Chambers et al. did a particularly good job late last year.
The December 2020 issue of Genome Biology and Evolution contains a paper bearing the unbearably strange title "Comparative Genomics and Pan-Genomics of the Myxococcaceae, including a Description of Five Novel Species: Myxococcus eversor sp. nov., Myxococcus @#$%&! sp. nov., Myxococcus vastator sp. nov., Pyxidicoccus caerfyrddinensis sp. nov., and Pyxidicoccus trucidator sp. nov." A part of their description of the new species, Myxococcus @#$%&! sp. nov. is quoted below. Please note that the species name is taken from the site of isolation of the type strain:
... DNA GC content is 68.7 mol%. The draft genome sequence of AM401T is available from GenBank (accession VIFM01). The type strain (AM401T = NBRC 114351T = NBBC 100770T) was isolated from soil collected in the parish of @#$%&, UK (gridref 53.22°N 4.19°W).
You may wonder about the species name in "Myxococcus @#$%&! " as you will seldom find grawlixes (encrypted profanity) in our posts. But no profanity is intended. Here we use @#$%&!, not to hide a curse or a swear, but simply as a placeholder – or call it compression – for the full species name:
Who said microbiologists don't have a sense of humor? In Monty Python style, Chambers et al. could not resist bringing Myxococcus @#$%&! right back into the literature, in a corrigendum of April this year because "...the acronyms of the culture collections to which the type strains were deposited contained typographic errors."