A research team at the University of Cologne has discovered previously undescribed bacteria in amoebae that are related to Legionella and may even cause illness. The researchers from Professor Dr. Michael Bonkowski’s working group at the Department of Zoology has named one of the newly discovered bacteria ‘Pokémonas’ because they live in spherical amoebas comparable to Pokémon in the video game caught in balls. The results of their research have been published in the journal Boundaries in cellular and infectious microbiology.
Bacteria of the order Legionellales have long been of scientific interest because some of these bacteria are known to cause lung disease in humans and animals – such as “Legionnaires’ disease”, which is caused by the species Legionella pneumophila and can sometimes be fatal. Legionellales bacteria live and multiply as intracellular parasites in the cells of the organisms as hosts. In particular, legionella hosts are amoebae. The term ‘amoeba’ is used to describe a series of microorganisms that are not closely related but have a variable shape and crawling motion using pseudopods. “We wanted to screen amoebas for Legionellales and chose a group of amoebas for our research that had no close relationship with the hosts previously studied. The choice fell on the amoeba group Thecofilosea, which is often overlooked by researchers,” explains Marcel Dominik Solbach .
And in fact, the spherical Thecofilosea serves as host organisms for Legionellales. In Thecofilosea amoebae from environmental samples, the researchers were able to detect various Legionellales species, including two previously undescribed genera and an undescribed species from the genus Legionella. “The results show that the range of known host organisms for these bacteria is significantly wider than previously thought. In addition, these findings suggest that many more amoebas may serve as hosts for Legionellales – and thus potentially as disease vectors. To investigate this further, we sequence now the complete genome of these bacteria, “said Dr. Kenneth Dumack, who led the project.
In the future, these new findings should help to better understand how Legionellales bacteria are related to each other, and clarify their interaction with their hosts as well as routes of infection to prevent outbreaks of the diseases in humans.
The researchers named one of the genus of bacteria they discovered, “Pokemonas.” The family name “Pokémonas” is a pun based on the video game franchise “Pokémon”, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and with which most school children, students and their parents should be familiar. The name refers to the intracellular lifestyle of the bacteria in the spherical Thecofilosea amoebae, because in ‘Pokémon’ series games, small monsters are caught in balls, just like ‘Pokemonas’ in Thecofilosea.
Marcel Dominik Solbach et al. Roman Endosymbionts in Rhizarian Amoebae Involves Universal Infection of Independent Free-Living Amoebas by Legionellales, Boundaries in cellular and infectious microbiology (2021). DOI: 10.3389 / fcimb.2021.642216
Provided by the University of Cologne
Citation: ‘Pokemonas’: Bacteria related to detected lung parasites, named after Pokémon (2021, April 30) retrieved May 2, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-pokemonas-bacteria-lung-parasites-pokmon . html
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