Social media platforms have been used for different purposes – from being entertained, to sharing news to availing information. However, in an unprecedented episode, scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic fungus on the micro-blogging platform Twitter.
As per a study made public in the journal MycoKeys, the researchers stumbled upon an image of a millipede when they were skimming through the site and then went on to notice that a few tiny dots near the creature’s head. This was never spotted on the American millipedes.
This new parasitic fungus has also been officially given a Latin name – Troglomyces twitteri.
New species found
“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”, said study Ana Sofia Reboleira from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
The research team also discovered several specimens of the same fungus on a number of the American millipedes which are present in the Natural History Museum’s enormous collection. What this has essentially done is that this has confirmed the existence of a species which was not known earlier. They are Laboulbeniales – which is a group and order of tiny, bizarre and largely unknown fungal parasites and they attack insects and millipedes.
“As far as we know, this is the first time that a new species has been discovered on Twitter. It highlights the importance of these platforms for sharing research – and thereby being able to achieve new results,” Reboleira said.
“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,” she further added.