Scientists have discovered a new species of fungus in the unlikeliest of places - Twitter. It all began when biologist and associate professor Ana Sofia Reboleira of the Natural History Museum of Denmark was scrolling though the microblogging platform and came across a picture of a North American millipede. The image was posted by Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech in the US, reports Phys.org.
Ms Reboleira's well-trained eyes noticed a few peculiar dots on the millipede. "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 and showed him the image. That's when we ran down to the museum's collections and began digging," she explained.
Together with colleague Henrik Enghoff, Ms Reboleira discovered several specimens of the same fungus on some American millipedes within the museum's vast collection. The fungus had never been documented before.
Their discovery confirmed the existence of a previously-unknown species of Laboulbeniales - an order of fungal parasites that attack insects and millipedes. The species has now been named in honour of the platform where it was discovered. It has been given its official Latin name, Troglomyces twitteri.
According to Daily Mail, the fungus - which looks like tiny larvae - are in a class of their own because they live on the outside of host organisms and are even found on reproductive organs. The fungus derives nutrition by piercing the outer shell of the host using a special suction structure.
"As far as we know, this is the first time that a new species has been discovered on Twitter," said Ana Sofia Reboleira. "It highlights the importance of these platforms for sharing research-and thereby being able to achieve new results. I hope that it will motivate professional and amateur researchers to share more data via social media. This is something that has been increasingly obvious during the coronavirus crisis, a time when so many are prevented from getting into the field or laboratories."Click for more trending news