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article imageA new species has been discovered with the help of Twitter

By Karen Graham     May 19, 2020 in Internet
There are all kinds of reasons to use social media, including watching silly cat videos or just expressing your opinion. However, researchers from the University of Copenhagen's Natural History Museum of Denmark used Twitter to discover a new species.
The new species of parasitic fungus was discovered as entomologist and associate professor Ana Sofia Reboleira of the National Natural History Museum was scrolling through Twitter. She came across an image of a North American millipede - sent to her by a colleague, Derek Hennen at Virginia Tech.
Reboleira"s training did her well because she spotted the two strange white dots stuck on the millipede's exoskeleton. The professor instantly knew what she was looking at - parasites, according to Science Daily.
"I could see something looking like fungi on the surface of the millipede. Until then, these fungi had never been found on American millipedes. So, I went to my colleague, Henrik Enghoff, and showed him the image. That's when we ran down to the museum's collections and began digging," Reboleira explained.
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Ana Sofia Reboleira
Denmark's Natural History Museum has an enormous collection, reports Live Science, including a few specimens of the same fungus on a few of the museum's collection of American millipedes. They soon found a number of specimens with the unusual fungus, which nobody had ever noticed or described before.
They were able to confirm that the novel fungus was a previously unknown species of Laboulbeniales - an order of tiny, bizarre, and largely unknown fungal parasites that attack insects and millipedes. And in honor of where the fungus was found, it has been given its official Latin name, Troglomyces twitteri.
The insect-loving fungal order Laboulbeniales
Laboulbeniales is an order of Fungi within the class Laboulbeniomycetes. They are also known by the colloquial name, labouls. T. twitteri is one of about 30 species in the order that exclusively attack millipedes.
The fungi not only live on the outside of a millipede's body but specifically close to the insect's reproductive organs. Millipede mating (an intimate affair that can resemble human mating, only with a lot more legs) provides the parasites with a perfect opportunity to spread their spores, the team wrote.
T. twitteri belongs to the insect-loving fungal order Laboulbeniales  and is one of about 30 species...
T. twitteri belongs to the insect-loving fungal order Laboulbeniales, and is one of about 30 species in the order that exclusively attack millipedes.
Santamaria S, Enghoff H, Reboleira AS
What is particularly interesting is that T. twitterihas never been seen in North America until now, while they have been found in other parts of the world, including in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand - and many of them in the past six years,
Reboleira said in a statement. "As far as we know, this is the first time that a new species has been discovered on Twitter."
The research was conducted by Sergi Santamaria of the Department de Biologia Animal, de Biologia Vegetal i d'Ecologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; and Henrik Enghoff & Ana Sofia Reboleira from the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. The research results are published in the scientific journal MycoKeys:
More about animalfungus interaction, New species, Diplopoda, Laboulbeniaceae, Social media
 
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