Newly discovered microbes named after Canadian band Rush

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In Canada, three new species of microbe found in the guts of termites have been named after members of the Canadian prog-rock band Rush, owing to the microbes’ long hair and rhythmic wriggling under the microscope.

The microbes are covered with flagella, which are long threads that cells use to move around. Many cells have a few flagella, but these little rockers have more than ten thousand very long flagella, giving them flowing hair. They also have rhythm and bop their heads and bodies causing the researchers to name the new Pseudotrichonympha species P. leei, P. lifesoni, and P. pearti after musicians Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart.

The microbe named after drummer and lyricist Peart contains a rotating intracellular structure never seen before. The researchers dubbed this the “rotatosome,” and even though they tested several theories, they still can’t figure out what it does. “We have looked at a lot of crazy cells in my lab, and none of us has ever seen anything like this,” said Patrick Keeling, a University of British Columbia microbiologist and senior author said in their press release.