Derek Hennen, a chitosis expert at Virginia Tech, shared a photo on Twitter that sparked the discovery of a new fungal species. Biologist Ana Sofia Reboleira found a new parasitic fungus in this photo. Reboleira is a biologist at the Danish Museum of Natural History at the University of Copenhagen.
To most netizens, the footy may look like a mini-version of an alien in Alien, but Reboleira sees something beyond that and notices some interesting points on arthropods. “I can see something on the surface of a thousand feet that looks like a fungus. Until now, these fungi have never been found in U.S. chitosers,” Reboleira said in a press release Friday at the University of Copenhagen.
Hennen shared a Twitter thread reviewing how the discovery began. In 2018, he posted this original photo of the footworm from Ohio as part of his promise to send a picture of the chip to voters in the U.S. midterm elections via Twitter.
Reboleira has made a search for the previously unknown fungus by searching for the strange, previously unknown fungus in specimens of the American chitosis preserved at the Natural History Museum. “This confirms the existence of a previously unknown Laboulbeniales — a tiny, strange, largely unknown fungal parasite that attacks insects and thousand footworms. The university said in a statement.
The researchers describe the fungus in the journal MycoKeys, now named Troglomyces twitter. This fungus belongs to the Laboulbeniales fungus. It pierces the shell of the thousand-foot worm, so only half of the parasites protrude. Laboulbeniales-fungi remain mysterious, but scientists are trying to better understand their biology and their relationship to the host.
Reboleira hopes more scientists will share their work on social media. “As far as we know, this is the first time a new species has been found on Twitter,” she said. “This highlights the importance of these platforms for sharing research — and thus new results. “
Hennen agrees. “Summary: Continue to share your cool natural photos and pay attention to the details! He wrote on Twitter.