Trio of long-haired microbe species named for members of the band Rush

"We have looked at a lot of crazy cells in my lab, and none of us has ever seen anything like this," researcher Patrick Keeling said.
By Brooks Hays  |  Nov. 28, 2017 at 2:49 PM
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Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Scientists have named three new species of microbes after members of the Canadian prog rock band Rush.

The researchers responsible for discovering the new species say the microbes' long hair and rhythmic gyrations recall the band's style and music.

The three new species were found inside the guts of termites. They belong to the genus Pseudotrichonympha. Scientists named the new species Pseudotrichonympha leei, lifesoni, and pearti after Rush members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.

"A Spanish postdoc, Javier del Campo, asked me to recommend some good Canadian music, and I suggested he listen to Rush," Patrick Keeling, a University of British Columbia microbiologist, said in a news release. "He came back to me and said 'Those microbes we're finding have long hair like the guys on the album 2112!'"

The band's 1976 album 2112 sold 3 million copies and was favorite among fans and critics. Rush penned several hit singles, including "Tom Sawyer" and "Closer to the Heart." They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

The microbe named after Peart, the band's drummer and primary lyricist, features an unusual intracellular structure that scientists dubbed the "rotatosome." Researchers aren't sure what function the structure serves.

"We have looked at a lot of crazy cells in my lab, and none of us has ever seen anything like this," Keeling said.

Researchers described the three new species in the journal Scientific Reports.

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